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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Endangered Species: Bighorn Ram
stamped twice with the Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. stamps and numbered 'PA29.008' (on the overlap) and numbered again 'PA29.008' (on the stretcher)
synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas
60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1983.

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Lot Essay

A powerful image, mounted against a solid blue background, 'Endangered Species: Bighorn Ram,' boasts one of the most admired animals among the Apsaalooka, or Crow people, central to the Apsaslooka tribal lands, the sheep are the name sake for what is today called the Bighorn Mountain Range in northern Wyoming. The Bighorn sheep originally crossed into North America over the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia, sparking the population in North America to peak in the millions, and thus the Bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americas. However, by 1900 the population had crashed to several thousand. Efforts established in 1930 by the Boy Scouts of America created two Bighorn game ranges in Arizona. Through an increased program of reintroductions, national parks, and reduced hunting, together with a decrease in domesticated sheep near the end of World War II, allowed the Bighorn sheep to make a further comeback. Though it is currently unknown if the population of Bighorn sheep has risen since Warhol's creation, the animal continues to be an iconic image for many Native populations, and is know the official mascot for the Arizona Boy Scouts.

The 'Endangered Species' series is presented as equals to Warhol's favored screen idols, be it Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor or Elvis Presley. Similar to those iconic depictions, the 'Endangered Species' portfolio has a dark undercurrent. Where Marilyn had died, Liz was rumored to be at death's door and Elvis was shown as a gun-toting cowboy, 'Endangered Species' too oozes violence, volatility and antiestablishment subversion. Where Warhol celebrated his stars in an array of works, he revisits his series of animals, applying a wild array of radiating colors. And while his tragic stars were out of reach, Warhol understood his legacy could influence his endangered animals. Upon his death, Warhol's beachfront property in Long Island, now The Andy Warhol Preserve was gifted to The Nature Conservancy from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in order to preserve a section of the ecologically significant Montauk Moorlands and promote the visual arts.

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