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

Self-Portrait

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Self-Portrait
signed twice, inscribed and dated twice 'To Thilo with Love Andy Warhol 1963' (on the overlap)
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
20 x 16 in. (50.5 x 40.6 cm.)
Painted in 1963-1964.
Provenance
Eleanor Ward, New York
Thilo von Watzdorf, New York
Anon. sale; Sotheby's New York, 14 May 1998, lot 22
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Literature
G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures, 1961-1963, vol. 1, New York, 2002, pp. 428 and 434, no. 487 (illustrated in color).
Exhibited
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol, October-November 1978.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Andy Warhol, May-July 1978, no. 65.
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Warhol: Le Grand monde d'Andy Warhol, March-July 2009, p. 70, no. 2 (illustrated in color). Las Vegas, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Andy Warhol Celebrities, February-September 2003, no. 23 (illustrated in color).
New York, Van de Weghe Fine Art, Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits 1963-1986, April-May 2005, no. 1 (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.
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. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the fixed fee for taking on the guarantee risk may be netted against the final purchase price.

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Robert Manley
Robert Manley

Lot Essay

This powerful work is among the first self-portraits that Andy Warhol ever produced, and remains one of his most enigmatic canvases. Warhol projects the image of a cool, mysterious figure, concealed behind dark sunglasses, the collar of his raincoat upturned. We can still clearly see vestiges of the original photo-booth source material along the left edge, giving a strong sense of mechanical reproduction, Warhol's signature motif. This particular screen gives an enhanced sense of duplication by including a tantalizing glimpse of the next exposure in the strip along the canvas's lower edge. Warhol screened this intriguing work onto a canvas of cadmium red. Like its subject, this portrait is full of contradictions. It consummately represents Warhol at a time when he had become the archetypal artist of his generation, strong and bold yet with an innate sense of mystery.

The collector Florence Barron commissioned Warhol to produce his first self-portrait in late 1963 (see lot 22). The source of this particular Self-Portrait was the first exposure taken from a strip of photobooth images and shows Warhol undoing his tie with his right hand. While other screens from the series depict Warhol craning his neck first to the left, and then to the right, the image used for this screen has Warhol looking straight at the lens, engaging the viewer with a confrontational gaze. Warhol painted this Self-Portrait at a time when he was cementing his reputation at the center of the New York art world. He had already re-written the established rules of art with his series of Campbell's Soup Cans and celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis, giving birth to the Pop Art movement. When it came to producing his own portrait, Warhol decided against using hand drawn illustrations or pre-existing photographs as he had done previously, and instead ventured into one of the numerous photobooths that lined the seedy districts around New York's Times Square. Now, he created the object himself, and the leveling power of the photo-booth was like reverse magic, taking a glamorous subject or sitter and presenting them in a common, everyday, 25-cents-a-strip way. Warhol was especially interested in this equality bestowed upon the world, upon consumers, and by blowing these images up and presenting them as ardent monochromes, Warhol made them sing with contemporary life and energy. They embrace the aesthetic and mood of the 1960s, not just in the artist's look on the canvas, but also in the picture's own vibrancy.

This work marks Warhol's first foray into self-portraiture, which opened up a completely new avenue of potential for the artist. The genre has long provided artists, from Durer to Picasso and Bacon, with one of the most personal forms of self-expression. Warhol had already shown his fascination with the idea of representation through his uniquely conceived images of American consumerism and popular culture. Self-Portrait gave him the opportunity to use the reductive visual iconography he had developed with his earlier celebrity portraits, on himself. Warhol enjoyed, on the most aesthetic and superficial level, the "editing" he could perform on his own features to ensure the quality of the finished result, of the face to be committed to posterity: "When I did my self-portrait, I left all the pimples out because you always should. Pimples are a temporary condition and don't have anything to do with what you really look like. Always omit the blemishes - they're not part of the good picture you want" (A. Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and back again, San Diego, New York & London, 1977, p. 62).

Although Warhol was fast becoming the center of the art world, he was also a notoriously shy and socially awkward man and his Self-Portrait gave him the opportunity to adopt the persona of the man he wanted to become. Wearing shades and looking phlegmatic, Warhol presents himself as an archetypal combination of 1960s film star and underworld detective. By adopting this persona, he is controlling how much of the true Warhol he will allow the public to see. Warhol decided to dictate how much of himself to reveal, this very choice reflecting an integral part of his personality. He desired to remain discreet and at a distance, to avoid exposing himself too much too publicly. In capturing, albeit glamorously, this sense of shyness, Self-Portrait belies his often quoted statement that "If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and film and me, there I am. There's nothing behind it" (A. Warhol, quoted in K. Honnef, Andy Warhol, 2000, p. 45).

Warhol's painted his first self-portraits in 1963 and 1964 just as he was starting to emerge, blinking, into the full glare of the art world. The critical response to the showing of his Campbell's Soup Cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angles had propelled him into the public spotlight. This portrait of Warhol hints at the uncertainty he felt about his own position. Shielded by his sunglasses, his raincoat collar upturned, it epitomizes his boldness, tempered with youthful uncertainty. This picture hints at his own consciousness of his position as an artist, and a scandalous one at that. At the beginning of his momentous career, Self-Portrait astutely illustrates the enigma that was Andy Warhol.

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