Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
3 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Cagney

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Cagney
signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 64' (on the reverse)
silkscreen ink on paper
30 x 40 in. (76 x 101.5 cm.)
Executed in 1964.
Provenance
Rolf Ricke, Cologne
Donald Young Gallery, Chicago
Milwaukee Art Museum Contemporary Art Society Benefit Auction, 11 October 1986, lot 12
Private collection, Milwaukee
By descent from the above to the present owner
Literature
R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, no. 606.
G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture 1961-1963, vol. 1, New York, 2002, p. 349.
F. Feldman and J. Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, New York, 2003, pp. 41-42, no. I.1.
J. Brody, “Andy Warhol’s Cagney Prints,” Print Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 142-153.
Exhibited
Kunsthaus Zürich, Andy Warhol, May-July 1978.
Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol, October-November 1978, no. 16.
Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover, Andy Warhol: Bilder 1961-1981, October-December 1981, p. 131, no. 6 (illustrated).
Milwaukee Art Museum and Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum, Warhol/Beuys/Polke, June-November 1987, p. 29, no. 8 (illustrated).
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. 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.

Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Impressionist & Modern Art

Lot essay

Cagney is a visually groundbreaking silkscreen work on paper that marks an important transition in Andy Warhol’s painting practice. Executed near the height of Warhol’s creative output, itis one of eight unique silkscreen variants and one of the first known examples of Warhol’s use of silkscreen on paper. Dated 1964, though possibly executed in 1963, the Cagney series signals a transition away from the portrait heads of 1962-1963 and into a deeper realm of full-figured celebrity subjects that incorporate an alluring duality of pop culture and violence.

comp image
Andy Warhol, 1963. Photograph by Nat Finkelstein. © 2021 Estate of Nat Finkelstein.  Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Warhol himself told Rainer Crone and later Heiner Bastian that the source image for Cagney was derived from a publicity still for the 1931 film Public Enemy, in which actor Jimmy Cagney portrayed Al Capone. In fact, more recent scholarship has determined that Warhol’s source was a publicity image for Cagney’s 1938 film Angels with Dirty Faces, in which the actor plays tough man Rocky Sullivan. Whether it’s Al Capone or Rocky, the effect is the same. We see Cagney, the star and epitome of cool, with his back against the wall and his guns drawn. The menacing shadow of another gunman pointing a machine gun at Cagney looms on the wall. The tough man is cornered, but he won’t go out without a fight.

comp image
James Cagney posing in a publicity still for the 1938 film, Angels with Dirty Faces. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Cagney is one of the first paintings by Warhol to depict a male celebrity in full-figured character. Along with the silver Brando and Elvis paintings, which were executed contemporaneously with Cagney, this marks an important shift away from one-dimensional celebrity portraits, such as Marilyn and Troy, and towards the duality of character that inhabits Warhol’s best paintings. Cagney, like Brando and Elvis, is a potentially dangerous paramour. He is dressed suavely in a double-breasted suit and silk polka-dot tie, but he’s a violent man. There is a friction between violence and sex appeal here. The line is blurred between the ‘fact’ of the celebrity and the ‘fiction’ of their character. Once Warhol hit this note, he continued to play it for much of his career. Only a few months after the Cagney series, he took it even further by reducing the celebrity and focusing on the outright depiction of criminals themselves in his 1964 Most Wanted Men series. The celebrity aspect was altered, but the criminality and sex appeal remained.

comp image
Andy Warhol, Double Elvis, 1963. Museum of Modern Art, New York.  © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, New York.

Each of the eight unique Cagney works on paper were executed on 30 x 40 inch Strathmore sheets, and the embossed Strathmore emblem is visible in the lower left of this version. Warhol likely used the same silkscreen as used for his sole Cagney painting, a massive 204 x 79 inch (520 x 201 cm) work on canvas from 1963. In order to fit the large silkscreen image onto the smaller Strathmore sheets, Warhol focused his image on Cagney and left out much of the second gunman’s shadow. The cropping was effective, and Warhol was evidently pleased with the result. He almost immediately exhibited two of the Cagney works on paper at the Wadsworth Athenum in Hartford as part of Sam Wagstaff’s important January-February 1964 exhibition, Black, White and Grey: Contemporary Painting and Sculpture. Since then works from the Cagney series have been widely exhibited and collected by museums. This work was shown at four different museums throughout the 1970s and 80s, and was included in the important Warhol retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1978. Other unique Cagney works reside in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; and the Collection Froehlich, Stuttgart.

comp image
Andy Warhol, Cagney, 1962. Museum of Modern Art, New York.  © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, New York.

Like Warhol’s unique silkscreen paintings on canvas, the Cagney works on paper bear unique imperfections relating to the silkscreen process. This version of Cagney is perhaps the cleanest and least-marred silkscreen impression in existence. It bears none of the large white streaks that disrupt the image in other versions, such as the example owned by MoMA, New York, and the tonality of the ink is remarkably rich. Cagney’s shadow in particular is in stark contrast with his figure and the wall behind him, and the effect is particularly vivid.

comp image
Roy Lichtenstein, Fastest Gun, 1963. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.

Confusion as to the cataloguing of these works has persisted over the years, partly because of notations in Rainer Crone’s important 1970 Warhol catalogue. As the 2002 Warhol catalogue raisonné explains, “Crone never recorded the [Cagney and Bela Lugosi] paintings and cited most of the works on paper as prints, although each is unique. Crone’s information appears to have come from a misreading of the Castelli Gallery inventory.” [G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture 1961-1963, vol. 1, New York, 2002, p. 349.] Recent scholarship, including the Warhol catalogue raisonné project and Jacqueline Brody’s paper on the Cagney series, have helped dispel this notion. As Brody wrote, “When Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann followed Crone with their expanded catalogue of the prints in 1985, Warhol told them that he considered any silkscreens on paper he printed himself, such as Cagney, to be ‘unique drawings’, and not prints.” J. Brody, “Andy Warhol’s Cagney Prints,” Print Quarterly, vol. 26, no 2, June 2009, pp. 142-153. This underscores the historical importance and special nature of the series, and in particular this work: while the series is itself rare, a work of this caliber and visual strength within the series is even rarer.

Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).

Related Articles

View all
The A-Z of Andy Warhol auction at Christies
Article

The A-Z of Andy Warhol

More from 20th Century Evening Sale

View All
View All