Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTION 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)
each signed and numbered 'Andy Warhol 215/250' (on the reverse), each the full sheet, published by Factory Additions, New York
the complete set of ten screenprints in colors
each sheet: 36 x 36 in. (91.4 x 91.4 cm.)
Executed in 1967. This set is number two-hundred and fifteen from an edition of two-hundred and fifty plus twenty-six artist's proofs. (10)
Provenance
O.K. Harris Works of Art, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, January 1982
Literature
F. Feldman and J. Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, New York, 1997, pp. 68-69, nos. II.22-32 (illustrated in color).

Brought to you by

Elizabeth Maybank
Elizabeth Maybank

Lot Essay

The complete set of Andy Warhol's portraits of Marilyn Monroe celebrates the artist's ability to capture not only a person's physical likeness, but the celebrity of their public persona. It is not often that a celebrity can be described as an icon, but with her white-blond hair, full red lips and shapely curves, that is exactly what Marilyn Monroe became. Charming the world with her beauty and her brazen sexuality, this Hollywood bombshell became pop culture's queen, assuming the throne with great pomp and circumstance. Paraded lavishly across these ten vibrant portraits, Andy Warhol celebrates Monroe's famed beauty in glorious Technicolor, and together the king of Pop Art and the goddess of the silver screen formed a dynamic pair.

Like countless others, Warhol found it impossible to resist Monroe's tantalizing allure. He saw in the actress an individual whose personal identity was fashioned by the public arena. She was the perfect emblem of a contemporary culture that worshipped celebrities and neatly packaged stardom. Within weeks of Monroe's unexpected and tragic death in August 1962, the artist began to create his famous images of her. Warhol built upon an extensive portraiture tradition that stretches back to the first artistic patrons. There has always been a demand to refashion human likeness, whether to unearth the sitter's psychology, visualize personal ambition or convey a particular ideal. Here, Warhol challenged and revised classic portraiture through non-naturalistic color, compositional focus on a larger-than-life face, and a serial arrangement of canvases. In this work, not only are we given one reproduction of Marilyn Monroe's smoldering eyes and sensuous lips, but ten unique and visually striking renderings of the legendary actress. In one she sports mint green lipstick, in another bubblegum pink eye shadow, and in yet another, a frosty blue mask covers her flawless skin. Across these ten works, Warhol represents a radiant array of her guises.

Portrait paintings represent the pop artist's largest body of work, a reflection of his interest in the colorful spectrum of people he encountered. Using his own unique visual language, he immortalized a very diverse society, which included presidents, fashion designers, movie stars, sports icons and high-society figures. Using a similar visual strategy as his Campbell's Soup Cans canvases, Warhol cropped the portrait so that it would seem as though the subject was projecting off the canvas, thrusting the image onto the viewer's attention with gusto. He was the first artist to frame his portraits like a close-up studio still, a nod towards his fascination with Hollywood as well as his source materials. Taking film stills, publicity photographs and official media images, Warhol reworked them into psychedelic presentations of society portraiture.

With vibrant yellows, pinks and greens, Warhol brands Marilyn Monroe's beckoning smile into our memory. In a way these bright and energetic hues bring the legendary actress back to life, capturing her at the epitome of her fame. By freezing a moment in time, Warhol saturates the image with a sense of nostalgia and rebels against the transience of beauty. Monroe is portrayed as a figure at once enchanting and glamorous, yet also very distant, forever placed in the days of a long ago Hollywood. This portrait is a lasting monument to the talent and grandeur that won the actress the world's adoration, forever cementing her position as an American icon. Created by an artist who continues to command society's attention, Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe immortalizes the incredible beauty and captivating figure of Marilyn Monroe. For as Warhol once said, "The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will" (A. Warhol, quoted by Jaime Weinstein, 'Pop Goes Dior', Eid©e, Winter Issue 2012-2013, p. 111).

More from Post-War and Contemporary Morning Session

View All
View All