Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Self Portrait

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Self Portrait
signed, inscribed and dated 'to Iris Andy Warhol 67' (on the overlap of the lower left panel)
synthetic polymer, acrylic and silkscreen inks on linen, in four parts
4 canvases; each 22 x 22 in. (55.9 x 55.9 cm.)
Painted in 1966-1967. (4)
Provenance
Upper Left Panel:
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Mrs. Alcey Wolgin
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London/Jason McCoy, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Upper Right Panel:
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Robert Miller
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London/Jason McCoy, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Lower Left Panel:
Ruth Harf Fine Art, Great Neck
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London/Jason McCoy, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Lower Right Panel:
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Joseph Klamer Trust, Willowdale
Private collection, St. Cloud
Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London/Jason McCoy, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, no. 192 and 196 (upper and lower right panels).
R. Crone, Das Bildnerische Werk Andy Warhols, New York, 1976, no.
352 and 357 (upper and lower right panels).
N. Frei and G. Printz, ed., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, vol. 02B, New York, 2004, pp. 242-243; 255-256, nos. 1894, 1897, 1904 and 1909 (all four panels illustrated in color).
Exhibited
Pasadena Art Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; London, Tate Gallery and Whitney Museum of American Art, Andy Warhol, May 1970-June 1971 (lower right panel exhibited).
New York, Jason McCoy Inc., Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits, January-March 1990, nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12 (all four panels illustrated in color).
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol, September 1990-January 1991, nos. 37, 38, 39 and 40 (all four panels illustrated in color).
Kunstmuseum Luzern, Andy Warhol Paintings 1960-1986, July-September 1995, pp. 124 and 167, no. 48 (illustrated in color).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Lot Essay

Self-portraits are inevitably staged. Throughout history, artists have claimed sincere revelation in works that have essentially been constructed self-projections to the world. Although this has been understood at some level, the idea of seeing into the soul of a genius has proven far too romantic an illusion to forgo; Andy Warhol is one of the earliest artists to disrupt the myth of full disclosure and expose the artifice that underlies self-portraiture. His self-portraits are overt fabrications, and as such, watersheds in the history of art.

"If you want to know about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it", the artist once famously said (cited in K. Honnef, Andy Warhol 1928-1987 Commerce into Art, Cologne, 2000, p. 45). Jostling in vivid juxtaposition, Warhol's repeated visage in Self-Portrait, 1967 epitomizes this mantra of superficiality. Born of the artist's trademark silkscreening process, color lies on the surface allowing no visual penetration. In synthetic hues that underscore their artifice, each "figure" of Warhol's summarily screened features clashes with its respective "ground", reading at once as bold, flat, abstract passages and emblems of stylized reduction. Pared down in palette and delineation, Warhol's mechanical process renders his countenance graphic articulation; doubling as pattern and physiognomy, each of his self-portraits acquires the immediate apprehension of a brand.

Created on the upswing of his fame, Warhol rendered Self-Portrait in the cool, detached stance of his earlier portraits of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. Depicting these public figures in the dispassionate format he had employed for consumer products such as Campbell's Soup Cans and Coca-Cola Bottles, he presented them as media-manipulated, mass-marketed icons. No longer relying on the conventional tropes of portraiture such as individuality, psychological insight and personality traits, he forged a seminal type portrait with these works; archetypically Pop, they overtly stated the divide between public and private personae. By deliberately adopting this format for his own portrait, Warhol granted himself the kind of faade typically assumed by celebrities; more importantly, he inducted himself into their ranks. Propelled into the limelight via his recent exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and his increasing acclaim as a filmmaker, Warhol had arrived into the pantheon of the rich and famous. Self-Portrait marks this watershed.

Warhol's alignment with stardom is evident in the theatrical stance that he adopts for this particular work: shrouded in the mysterious half-light of the film studio with his forefingers spread over his lips, he mythologizes himself as both the strong silent leading man and the distinguished auteur of the silver screen. At once dandyish and intently watchful, Self-Portrait embodies the kind of constructed self-projection that was crucial to his public faade; indeed, more than any other artist of his generation, Warhol's image, identity and cultural persona were inextricably bound to his art, and his self-portraits served as a means of extending both. "People want to see you. Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame - they feed the imagination" Ivan Karp had once told him (cited in C. Ratcliff, Warhol, New York, 1983, p. 53).

"Feeding the imagination" was exactly what Warhol had in mind as he turned the tables on himself in Self-Portrait. In this work, the modern day flâneur of contemporary culture rendered himself the focus his voyeurism, but rather than indulging in truthful self-revelation, created an impenetrable enigma instead. Half-hidden in murky shadows, he appears to observe the world around him but returns its gaze with one of non-committal blankness. He forfeits nothing of himself and crosses two fingers over his lips as if to enforce this silence. "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" (cited in Andy Warhol, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1967).

Despite its repetition across four canvases, Warhol's visage in Self-Portrait reveals nothing of the artist. Like the artist himself, this exceptional and rare constellation is an eternal paradox.

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