Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 2… Read more
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Dollar Sign

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Dollar Sign
signed, inscribed and dated 'Andy Warhol 81 to Jane' (on the overlap)
synthetic polymere paint and silkscreen inks on canvas
10¼ x 8in. (26 x 20.4cm.)
Executed in 1981
Provenance
Dorfman Projects, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Beatriz Ordovas
Beatriz Ordovas

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Lot Essay

'I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall' (Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), New York 1975, pp.133 and 134).

Dollar Sign is a striking display of what was arguably Andy Warhol's lifelong ambition: money. Executed in 1981, the work is part of a series of iconic images of the American dollar, created through a process of hand drawing and silkscreen reproduction that Warhol began at this time. Translated from a deliberately sketchy drawing of the symbol, Dollar Sign is one of a series of works from the early 80s in which the manual element of his art, so long neglected, was reintroduced. The clean lines of the italicised character and the shaded hatchings of the original sketch are prominently showcased by the multiple inks employed. The candy-coloured pink, blue and rich gold of the composition shine from the canvas; they offer a superimposed effect, a sort of double image as if looking through a lens. At the same time, the depth of the resultant image imports the significance of the global currency to consumer capitalism and American hegemony.

Warhol originally conceived of using the dollar motif in 1962. His first investigations into the 'greenback' included pencil drawings and watercolours. When he later attempted to recreate the bills in a grid like formation, he realised that including the intricate details would require a new method. This marked the beginning of the artist's silkscreen printing; a medium which was to define his career. In resurrecting the dollar as a subject in the 1980s, Warhol was expressing his fascination with the concept of Art Business. He was intrigued by the possibilities of transforming paint into actual cash; a sort of artistic alchemy. When the series was first exhibited at the Leo Castelli gallery in 1982, they appeared as prophetic emblems of the profits set to inundate the contemporary art market. Indeed the works of brand name artists such as Warhol had by that time become metaphors for money itself.

In this respect, Dollar Sign is quintessentially Warhol; executed in vibrant colours, it seizes one of the most recognisable symbols in the world and subverts it into an incisive pictorial comment on art world commercialism. It represents a revealing tribute to the man who once said: 'I have a Fantasy about Money: I'm walking down the street and I hear someone say - in a whisper - 'There goes the richest person in the world.' (Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) New York 1975, p.135).

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