• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1904

    Post War and Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 126

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

    Self-portrait (Fright Wig)

    Price Realised  

    Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
    Self-portrait (Fright Wig)
    signed, inscribed and dated 'linda Andy Warhol 86' (on the overlap)
    synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas
    12 x 12 in. (30.5 x 30.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1986.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    "If you want to know Andy Warhol, then just look at the surface of my pictures, my movies and me and there I am; there's nothing in between." (Andy Warhol, cited in Gretchen Berg, 'Andy: My True Story' in Los Angeles Free Press, 17 March 1967, p. 3)

    Finished in the months preceding his untimely death, Andy Warhol's Self-portrait (Fright Wig) is the culmination of the artist's investigations of image, identity and celebrity. Warhol reveled in and revealed the mechanisms of the culture of stardom. With this series, the artist returned his steely focus to himself after years of making portraits, including publishing Interview magazine and hosting his own television show. Warhol had an unparalleled command of the medium.
    As in earlier series of self-portraits, Warhol again utilizes a device, in this case the frightful wig, that enacts the theatrical drama of this composition. The tools that he wielded allowed Warhol to explore and transform his own multilayered persona: as artist, as star, as icon. It is how identity can function as a screen, onto which could be projected realities and fantasies, that Warhol understood and exploited to such masterful effect.

    Formally linked to the glamorous images of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy that he had produced in the 1960's, Warhol has presented himself on a gold field. This directly frontal presentation, elevates the image of the artist to the status of icon, on par with celestial beings and anointed saints. Above the unblinking intensity of his stare, Warhol has composed a deadpan shock of a wig. Strands of hair emanate from the artist's head, lending the stolid portrait an expressionistic vigor. Functioning almost as a crown, Warhol's wig was inseparable from his person, a symbol of the vanity and eccentricity of fame.

    "A sense of ultimate moment fills all these works, as well as a sense of stages artifice that, for a moment, can ward off the unstaged reality of death. Above all, spirit is about to conquer flesh, as if staring, frontal icon of Byzantine deity were created before our eyes." Robert Rosenblum "Andy Warhol's Masks", in Andy Warhol: Selfportraits, Dietmar Elger (ed.), Germany, 2004

    Provenance

    Private collection, New York
    Judith Goldberg Fine Art, New York
    Richard Polsky, San Francisco
    Richard Green Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private collection, Los Angeles
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Exhibited

    R. Polsky, I Bought Andy Warhol, New York, 2004, pp. 161 and 162.