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    Sale 11797

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

    29 June 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

    The Disquieting Muses (After de Chirico)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
    The Disquieting Muses (After de Chirico)
    stamped three times with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamp, stamped twice with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamp and numbered PA38.001’ (on the canvas and overlap)
    acrylic and silkscreen inks on canvas
    50 1/8 x 42¼in. (127.3 x 107.3cm.)
    Executed in 1982


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    ‘De Chirico repeated the same images throughout his life. I believe he did it not only because people and dealers asked him to do it, but because he liked it and viewed repetition as a way of expressing himself. This is probably what we have in common’

    —A. WARHOL

    ‘It was [a] reproduction in the exhibition catalogue of Carlo Ragghianti’s image from Critica d’Arte – eighteen nearly identical versions of de Chirico’s The Disquieting Muses, dating from 1945 to 1962, arranged in three neat rows spread over two pages – that made the deepest impression on the younger artist. This gridlike organization recalls the modular format of Warhol’s Pop paintings of soup cans, which represents images of consumer goods arranged in stacked and ordered rows that mimic the repetitive displays in supermarket shelves’

    —M. TAYLOR

    ‘Every time I saw de Chirico’s paintings I felt close to him. Every time I saw him I felt I had known him forever. I think he felt the same way … Once he made the remark that we both had white hair!’

    —A. WARHOL


    In The Disquieting Muses (After de Chirico), a kaleidoscopic hybrid is born. Andy Warhol, king of American Pop art, meets Giorgio de Chirico, the Italian metaphysical painter hailed by many as the father of Surrealism. Warhol has repeated four times one of de Chirico’s most famous works, The Disquieting Muses: first painted during the First World War, it depicts a group of strangely adorned mannequins standing in deep shadow on a sharply perspectival landscape of floorboards in front of Castello Estense, in the medieval Italian city of Ferrara. The work is an icon of Modernism and a masterpiece of the melancholic, dreamlike art de Chirico pioneered in the early twentieth century. Warhol’s trademark iterative screenprinting emphasises the columnar form of the mannequin to the left with a white vertical beam, and strafes the overall composition with gorgeous swathes of colour. The ground is lit with orange and the shadows glow deep red, while outlines are emphasised in luminous blue and yellow tracery; the doubled skies are suffused with scarlet or green, and rays of magenta and lilac gleam across like diagonal strobelights. Inspired by de Chirico’s 1982 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Warhol expresses his affinity with the older artist, whose own practice was flavoured with repetition and serialisation: in The Disquieting Muses (After de Chirico), Warhol reproduces an image that de Chirico himself had repeated countless times during his career, and imbues it with a blazing technicolour afterlife.

    Upon seeing the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s major survey of work by de Chirico in spring 1982, Warhol was moved to create a series of screenprints, which he executed later that year. As Michael R. Taylor writes, ‘it was [a] reproduction in the exhibition catalogue of Carlo Ragghianti’s image from Critica d’Arte – eighteen nearly identical versions of de Chirico’s The Disquieting Muses, dating from 1945 to 1962, arranged in three neat rows spread over two pages – that made the deepest impression on the younger artist. This gridlike organization recalls the modular format of Warhol’s Pop paintings of soup cans, which represents images of consumer goods arranged in stacked and ordered rows that mimic the repetitive displays in supermarket shelves’ (M. Taylor, Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne, Philadelphia, 2002, p. 164). Like his paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Jackie Kennedy which used material that circulated in pop culture tabloids, or his treatment of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which made a media sensation when it was exhibited in New York in 1963, Warhol drew inspiration from the headliners of the day. He was also interested in the repetitive element of de Chirico’s practice, and how this was treated by the museum. As art critic Robert C. Morgan reports, a ‘disclaimer printed in the catalogue and mounted on the exhibition walls stated that works from the late period of the artist (after 1928) suffered a decline and therefore would not be included in the exhibition’ (R. Morgan, ‘A Triple Alliance: de Chirico, Picabia, Warhol,’ The Brooklyn Rail, 1 March 2004). De Chirico repainted the same compositions obsessively, some as many as a hundred times over the course of his life. It was these very works, excluded from the official history of de Chirico’s production, which inspired Warhol: where MoMA curators felt the artist’s iterative practice unworthy of attention, Warhol saw a kindred spirit.

    Warhol had been introduced to de Chirico in the 1970s, and the two developed a strong friendship in the final years of the older artist’s life. ‘Every time I saw de Chirico’s paintings I felt close to him,’ Warhol told Achille Bonito Oliva in 1982. ‘Every time I saw him I felt I had known him forever. I think he felt the same way … Once he made the remark that we both had white hair!’ (A. Warhol, quoted in A. Bonito Oliva, ‘Industrial Metaphysics: Interview with Andy Warhol,’ in Warhol Verso de Chirico, exh. cat. Marisa del Re Gallery, New York 1982, p. 53). Warhol, who had long been subverting the traditional values of originality, inspiration and handmade spontaneity in art, clearly appreciated the embrace of replication and parody in de Chirico’s much-maligned later work. He became fascinated by de Chirico’s process, wondering: ‘How did he repeat the same images? Did he project the same image on the canvas? Maybe he did it by dividing the canvas in sections … he could have used a silkscreen!’ (A. Warhol, quoted in A. Bonito Oliva, ‘Industrial Metaphysics: Interview with Andy Warhol,’ in Warhol Verso de Chirico, exh. cat. Marisa del Re Gallery, New York 1982, p. 52). Inspired by this electric kinship with his precursor, in The Disquieting Muses (After de Chirico) Warhol fuses de Chirico’s serial practice of self-facsimile with his own, conjuring a vibrant and beautiful tribute that extends his friend’s legacy and reignites his relevance for a new age.

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    Provenance

    Thomas Amann Fine Art AG, Zurich.
    Waddington Galleries, London.
    Carlo Bilotti Collection, Palm Beach.
    Waddington Galleries, London.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    Literature

    J. Schellmann (ed.), Andy Warhol Art from Art, exh. cat., Cologne, Exhibition Hall Edition Schellmann, 1994, no. 19 (illustrated in colour, p. 35).
    Andy Warhol (After de Chirico), exh. cat., London, Waddington Galleries, 1998 (illustrated in colour, p. 22).


    Exhibited

    Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Andy Warhol: A Factory, 1998-2000, no. 521 (illustrated in colour, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Porto, Fundação de Serralves and New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.