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    Sale 7738

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

    30 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 8

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)


    Price Realised  


    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
    stamped with the artist's signature and numbered 'A1290.5' (on the overlap)
    synthetic polymer paint, silkscreen inks and pencil on canvas
    22 x 22in. (57.2 x 57.2cm.)
    Executed in 1966

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    'I'd prefer to remain a mystery; I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it different all the time I'm asked' (A. Warhol in G. Berg 'Andy Warhol: My True Story', The East Village Other, November 1, 1966).

    Originally housed in the collections of two of the greatest Pop art collectors, Leon Kraushar and Karl Ströher, Andy Warhol's 1966 Self Portrait has stood alongside some Warhol's most iconic works, including his Orange Marilyn, Red Jackie and Green Liz as one of the main symbols of the movement. Both startlingly intimate and totally artificial, Warhol's depiction of himself as self-stylized art product overtly states the divide between his public and private personae. This coolly detached and closely cropped image of the artist's face forms part of the best known and widely celebrated series of self-portrait paintings that Warhol would complete during the 1960s, before he would turn his lens on other people almost exclusively for the next ten years.

    The distinguished provenance of this Self-Portrait clearly indicates the significance of its place within Pop art history as Leon Kraushar, a passionate early believer in the movement who accumulated many important works by Warhol and his contemporaries, initially acquired the painting soon after completion. The portrait then passed into the hands of the German entrepreneur, Karl Ströher, who purchased much of Kraushar's collection upon his premature death in 1967, after which he held the largest collection of Pop art anywhere in Europe at that time. Ströher had initially focussed on collecting European twentieth century art but his greatest contribution was to Pop, which he immersed himself in after meeting with many of its leading artists--including Warhol--during his first visit to New York in 1966. He played a major role in broadening the audience for this work in Europe and his collection of post-war and contemporary art now forms the backbone of both the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt and the Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg.

    This painting is one of the earliest individually coloured self-portraits from the series, which was created specifically for the survey of Warhol's work organised by Alan Solomon at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art in October 1966. The Self-Portraits featured heavily in the show, with a wall of twenty-four chameleon-like variants shown alongside his flowers, disaster paintings, silver clouds and rolls of cow wallpaper. Warhol had spent much of the year promoting and touring with the Velvet Underground as part of his Exploding Plastic Inevitable show and he secured them a slot at the exhibition, bringing to Boston the feel of the heady silver Factory scene. The incongruous, highly saturated hues that he has used in this image harnesses a mixture of the darkness of the Velvet Underground's music and the psychedelia of the Sixties, with the striking red shadowed areas somewhat humorously contrasted against hand-painted under-layers of glaring turquoise, pink and green, creating a colour scheme that would soon find echoes in every rock concert poster on the West Coast.
    Warhol had first taken up the theme of self-portraiture in late 1963 on the urging of Ivan Karp who had told him, 'people want to see you. Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame - they feed the imagination' (A Warhol, POPism, New York, 1980, p. 17). Yet whereas his first self-portraits had utilized the mug shot style exposures of an automatic photo booth, this image was carefully selected and doctored from an 10 by 8 inch photograph, just as he had done with the promotional headshots of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor several years earlier. Having appropriated the celebrity of his subjects and replicated the production techniques of mass media, Warhol transforms his own status into a highly valuable commodity here, thereby acknowledging the idea that the media produces celebrity as a consumer good for anyone to attain. In doing so, Warhol conflates consumer culture with his own identity to produce an image that captures the essence of the Pop Art movement.

    Painted during the height of his interest in film and film-making, these self-portraits reflects a powerful sense of the artist as the dispassionate and objective voyeur that he saw his role of film-maker demanding. It presents the image of Warhol in the kind of pose he liked to take up when standing behind the camera, gazing at the performers and 'sucking in reality' in the same way that he once described his seemingly endlessly running camera. With his forefingers spread over his lips in a typically contemplative pose and his face partially veiled in the murky studio lights if to emphasize the shadowy and ephemeral nature of his presence further, this self-portrait is one of the artist's most direct and powerful statements about the very artificial nature of his work and himself. The wilfully impenetrable, blank stare that Warhol returns to the inquisitive gaze of the viewer reveals little, but through this characteristic display of evasiveness he asserts the carefully cultivated public role of passive spectator for which he became so well known. In this way, the image Warhol has chosen to project is both a presentation to the viewer of his own constructed self-image and also, in the established tradition of self-portraiture, a seeming attempt at self-investigation, clearly expressing the strangely ambiguous character of both the man and his art.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
    Ben Berillo, New York.
    Leon Kraushar, Long Island.
    Karl Ströher, Darmstadt.
    Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich.
    José Mugrabi Collection.
    Jablonka Galerie, Cologne.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001.

    Pre-Lot Text



    R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York 1970, no. 187.
    R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York 1976, no. 348.
    Y. Shirakura, Andy Warhol: Shinchosha's Super Artists, Tokyo 1990, no. 58 (illustrated in colour).
    'Andy Warhol: le mythe de l'âge d'or' in Arts, no. 56, June 1995, no. 26-27 (illustrated in colour).
    C. Cappa Legora, Andy Warhol: eine unglaubliche Geschichte nicht nur für Kinder, Milan 1996 (illustrated in colour, p. 6).
    G. Frei and N. Printz (eds.), Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, vol. 02B, New York 2004, no. 1877 (illustrated in colour, p. 123).


    Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol, October-November 1966, no. 34.
    Munich, Galerie Verein, Sammlung 1968 Karl Ströher, June-August 1968, no. 144.
    Tokyo, Mitsukoshi, Ltd., Andy Warhol, January 1991, no. 30 (illustrated in colour, on the cover).
    Tel Aviv, Museum of Art, Andy Warhol, 1928-1987: Works from a Private Collection, August-October 1992, no. 17 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
    Vienna, Kunsthaus, Andy Warhol 1928-1987, February-May 1993, no. 34 (illustrated in colour, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Athens, National Gallery, June-August 1993; Orlando, Museum of Art, October-December 1993 and Fort Lauderdale, Florida Museum of Art, January-March 1994.
    Taipei, Fine Arts Museum, Andy Warhol, October-November 1994 (illustrated in colour, p. 75).
    Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Andy Warhol, May-October 1995, no. 3 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
    Milan, Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta, Andy Warhol from the Collection José Mugrabi, October 1995-February 1996, no. 79 (illustrated, p. 117).
    Ludwigshafen, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Andy Warhol, September 1996-January 1997, no. 80 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
    New York, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Andy Warhol, Thirty are Better than One, May-June 1997 (illustrated in colour, p. 39).
    Helsinki, Taidehalli, Andy Warhol: Samlingen José Mugrabi, August-November 1997 (illustrated in colour, p. 107).
    Warsaw, National Museum, Andy Warhol, March-July 1998 (illustrated, p. 223).
    Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Warhol, October-December 1999, no. 70.
    Venice, L Biennale di Venezia, Sogni e Conflitti - La dittatura dello spettatore, June-November 2003 (illustrated, p. 434).
    St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum, Andy Warhol Self-Portraits, June-September 2004, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, p. 40). This exhibition later travelled to Hanover, Sprengel Museum, October 2004-January 2005 and Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, February-May 2005.