Lot Content

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

Meryl Streep

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Meryl Streep
each: with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamp, with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamp and numbered respectively 'PO50.506' and 'PO50.508' (on the overlap); and each with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamp (on the reverse)
acrylic, silverpaint and silkscreen inks on two canvases
each: 20 x 16in. (50.6 x 40.5cm.)
overall: 20 x 32in. (50.6 x 81cm.)
Executed in 1984
Provenance
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.
Private Collection of Anthony d'Offay, London.
Private Collection, Europe.
Max Lang, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
T. Shafrazi (ed.), Andy Warhol Portraits, London 2007 (one part illustrated in colour, p. 247).
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
Sale room notice
Please note that one part of the work is reproduced in T. Shafrazi (ed.), Andy Warhol Portraits, London 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 247).

Lot Essay

Painted in 1984, Meryl Streep is a diptych containing two of only
five images of the actress that Warhol made, of which two are in the
Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In the 1970s, in the aftermath of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and the then prevailing disciplines of Minimalism and Conceptualism, the art of portraiture was widely considered to be, like embroidery, crochet or basket weaving, a worn out occupation of the past. Good for old ladies and old masters perhaps, but well past its prime as a cutting-edge art form. Yet, it was precisely at this moment that Andy Warhol, who had made a name for himself in the 1960s painting portraits art aesthetic into the field of portraiture, painting the banal and often unfamiliar faces of all and anyone who would pay.

His resulting series of 'celebrity portraits' of his friends, dealers, collectors and party-goers was seen at the time as a vulgar and tasteless exercise in commercial art and a kitsch extension of the cool Warholian aesthetic into the shallow and vain world of his patrons - all done to support the artist's love of money. Today, these cheesy album-cover-like portraits of the good, the bad and the beautiful staring into Warhol's impartial but immortalizing lens in an open display of vain self-obssession, seem to assert themselves as powerful exposis of that fleeting, decadent and uncertain age.

Too classy and understated for inclusion in this pantheon of celebrities and wannabes, Meryl Streep was painted by Warhol in a smaller format as part of a rare group of pictures on a silver background that he made in 1984 of the then top Hollywood stars. These Marilyns, Liz's and Brandos of the 1960s had been, and included the then A-list members of the Hollywood elite Bill Murray, Clint Eastwood reversal series, seems more to hark back to the 'silver' age of his work in the 1960s, when everything about Warhol was silver from his studio to his hair, Coca Cola bottles to his paintings. 'Silver was the suits and their equipment was silver too. And silver was also the past-the Silver Screen-Hollywood actresses photographed in silver sets' (Andy Warhol, Popism, New York, 1980, pp. 64-65).

Meryl Streep, with its double portrait of the top Hollywood star of her day, is, in this way a celebration of the continuing fascination, magic and beauty of the Silver Screen. As a boy, one of Warhol's first hobbies was to collect signed portraits of the Hollywood starlets. Meryl Streep is a 1980s reworking of this enduring affection for Hollywood and, no doubt also, a knowing and nostalgic glance back to his own legacy and the 'silver' days of his Silver Liz's and silver Double Elvises.

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