This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When au… Read more

Monkey (Toy Painting)

Monkey (Toy Painting)
signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 83' and stamped with the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board stamp and numbered A120.0911 (on the overlap)
acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
35.5 x 28 cm. (14 x 11 in.)
Executed in 1983
Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich
Private Collection, Europe
Galerie Pascal Lansberg, Paris
Galerie Bulakia, Paris
Anon. sale, Bonhams London, 2 July 2014, lot 46
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Special notice

This Lot has been sourced from overseas. When auctioned, such property will remain under “bond” with the applicable import customs duties and taxes being deferred unless and until the property is brought into free circulation in the PRC. Prospective buyers are reminded that after paying for such lots in full and cleared funds, if they wish to import the lots into the PRC, they will be responsible for and will have to pay the applicable import customs duties and taxes. The rates of import customs duty and tax are based on the value of the goods and the relevant customs regulations and classifications in force at the time of import.

Lot Essay

Resplendent in banana yellow, Andy Warhol’s Monkey (Toy Painting) (1983) glows with the spirit of twentieth-century childhood – a vision of the innocence of youth seen through the prism of contemporary media. Warhol brings his image – the Russian packaging for a tin monkey figurine – to life with the striking and deceptively simple use of colour he had mastered: silkscreened in a rich red against the glorious yellow of the work’s background, with the shadows rendered in a dark teal, Warhol’s palette draws out the elegant, graphical simplicity of the original design, perfectly teasing out the way in which a few choice outlines can conjure up a world of imagination.

Monkey (Toy Painting) has its origin in Warhol’s long-established friendship with the Zurich gallerist Bruno Bischofberger, whose 1965 exhibition of works by Warhol, alongside the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Tom Wesselman, was one of the most important Pop Art shows ever held in Europe. Having previously commissioned Warhol’s Mao paintings a decade earlier, in 1982 Bischofberger again requested a series of paintings from Warhol – this time a series for children, to be exhibited in his Zurich showroom. Warhol’s response was the Toy Paintings: several silkscreened canvases depicting some of the artist’s beloved collection of tin toys. When they were first shown in Bischofberger’s gallery in 1983, the Toy Paintings transformed the space from a white cube into a kind of playroom: displayed on blue walls adorned with silver fish, the works were hung very close to the ground – perfectly in the line of sight of a toddler, but requiring any accompanying adults to sit or crouch to view them. As a gleeful saboteur of artistic dogma and etiquette, this was a decision that Warhol must have relished – and indeed, in Monkey (Toy Painting), perhaps the strongest feeling that abides is of an artist revelling in the freedom of youth.

Painted towards the end of his career, the commercial evocations of this work also hark back to his earlier paintings in which he celebrated the visual aesthetic of Campbell’s Soup cans and Coca- Cola bottles, paintings which started the Pop Art revolution. Here, the same simple visual language which established Warhol’s career as one of the most innovative artists of his generation stills resonates. When asked about this new notion of Pop, Warhol remarked "once you 'got' Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again. The mystery was gone, but the amazement was just starting” (P. Hackett, Popism: the Warhol '60s, New York, 1980, pp. 39-40).

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