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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
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Property of a Private Pittsburgh Collection
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)
signed and stamp-numbered 'Andy Warhol 166/250' (on the reverse of each sheet)
screenprint in colors on paper, in ten parts
each: 36 x 36 in. (91.4 x 91.4 cm.)
Executed in 1967. This work is number 166 from an edition of 250.
Provenance
Private collection, Japan
Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1998
Literature
F. Feldman and J. Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, New York, 2003, p. 64, no. II.22-31 (another example illustrated).
Exhibited
Pittsburgh, The Andy Warhol Museum, 1998-2018 (on loan).

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Rachael White
Rachael White

Lot Essay

"The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will" (A. Warhol, quoted by Jaime Weinstein, 'Pop Goes Dior', Eidce, Winter Issue 2012-2013, p. 111).
For Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe exuded the sultry glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, a powerhouse of the silver screen whose personal life was nevertheless plagued with tragedy. Though she was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, she was never considered seriously as an actress, and struggled with addiction throughout her short life. Her three high-profile marriages—to James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller—all ended in divorce. Her apparent suicide in Los Angeles in early August 1962 galvanized the nation. Her death represented a certain loss of American innocence and the impact of the young celebrity's death was felt around the world. Newspaper accounts of the tragedy appeared on the east coast on the morning of August 6, 1962, which happened to be the day of Warhol's thirty-fourth birthday. He doubtless saw the extensive coverage in the New York Mirror, where the headline announced: "Marilyn Monroe Kills Self -- Found Nude in Bed … Hand on Phone … Took 40 Pills.”
Warhol met Monroe a few times before her death, and had avidly followed her career. Monroe was a regular customer at Serendipity, a coffee shop on New York's Upper East Side where Warhol and his friends frequented and sold many of his drawings. Before and even more so after her death, Monroe was a departure from his fascination with other "silk-and-steel" Hollywood stars from the 1930s and 40s, like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Marlene Dietrich. Monroe possessed a tragic romance balanced with a striking naiveté that gave her a magnetic pull. Commenting on Warhol's attraction to the starlet, Tony Scherman stated, "Marilyn's image exuded sensual mischief and a childlike joy, but her life was a non-stop disaster-and she came to embody the gap between glamorous appearance and personal tragedy" (T. Scherman and D. Dalton, POP: The Genius of Andy Warhol, New York, 2001, p. 125).
Warhol loved this mix of glamour and tragedy that Monroe personified, and upon learning of her death, he immediately set to work on her portrait. In these early paintings and in the subsequent screenprinted portfolio from 1967, the lively coloration of Warhol’s portrait hints at the artifice behind the star’s made-up, silver-screen persona that masked her true identity and the humble origins from which she rose to great fame. Rather than opting for verisimilitude, Warhol’s Marilyn images are a series of vividly-colored images, in wild combinations that evoke the psychedelia of the era. When Warhol decided to create the portfolio of screenprints in her honor, he moved away from his gilded stylized drawings of the 1950s working instead with his newly found silkscreen techniques that he had previously used for his Coke Bottle and Dollar Bills series. Rendered in a heady Pop palette of neon pinks, blues and greens, the portfolio celebrates its subject's glamorous life, but hints at the ephemeral nature of fame and fortune, a subject that would haunt the artist for the duration of his career. The catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s prints describes this phenomenon: “However Warhol intended his portraits to be seen—as vanitas images, history painting, or simply glamour poses—he did more than any other artist to revitalize the practice of portraiture, bringing renewed attention to it in the avant-garde world. He reflected the desires and dreams of a new decade" (C. Defendi, F. Feldman and J. Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, New York, 2003, p. 23).
In November of 1962, Andy Warhol exhibited his candy-colored paintings of Marilyn Monroe at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in New York, to great critical and commercial success that skyrocketed him to fame as a Pop Art superstar. Five years later, as the Factory was in full swing and his celebrity status reached around the globe, Warhol again selected Marilyn Monroe as the inaugural image for a new print portfolio titled Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) that would be published through his own company, “Factory Additions.” The present lot is an example of this 1967 portfolio of screenprints.
Warhol used the same 1953 photograph as he had used in earlier portraits for the 1967 portfolio, a publicity photograph showing Monroe as she posed for the camera to promote the film Niagara in 1962. Zooming in on the starlet’s face, Warhol presents a tighter, more closely-cropped portrait, which he’s adjusted and refined. Warhol's signature use of repetition intensifies the crystallization of Monroe's face in the viewer's memory. While the colors shift from print to print, each one presents Monroe's unwavering and direct gaze. In this set, not only are we given one reproduction of Marilyn Monroe's smoldering eyes and sensuous lips, but ten 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.
Typical to his working fashion, Warhol often specifically created works to coincide with gallery or museum exhibitions. In this case, he did so in preparation for an upcoming survey of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The exhibition was conceived as an alternative to the traditional retrospective, and its opening in February of 1968 was quite spectacular. It included Warhol’s cow wallpaper, five hundred Brillo boxes and several large-scale transparent polyethylene "clouds." Twenty of the Marilyn prints were included, lining a back wall of the museum in full-blown Technicolor.
Warhol seems to convey Marilyn’s star power and the effect of her celebrity persona in supernatural terms, elevating her status from star of the silver screen to modern-day icon. Warhol’s close friend and confidant, David Bourdon, described: "Warhol's Marilyn silkscreens are even more vivid and lurid than his earlier portraits of her on canvas. He chose lush, non-naturalistic colors, with the blazing hues in startling combinations. … From the beginning, Warhol's Marilyns were considered the most desirable of all his prints. For a few years, it was virtually impossible to make the rounds of savvy art collectors' homes without encountering Marilyns at every turn. Their initial popularity was due in large part, of course, to Monroe's enduring appeal. But the prints' artistic staying power is due to Warhol's audacious originality as a colorist" (D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, Abrams, 1995, p. 26).
Just as Warhol solidified the image of a Campbell's soup can as a fixed image, the public remembers Warhol's Marilyn as he painted her. Both homage to her life and a critique of the celebrity culture that triggered her fall, Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) became one of Warhol's most iconic and illustrious series. Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) celebrates its subject's life and glamour, but discreetly hints at the ephemerality of fame and fortune, an effect deepened by the viewer's knowledge of Monroe's tragic end. Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) is therefore the perfect encapsulation of the spirit of an age; a candy-colored memento mori.
"Of all the painters working today in the service--or the thrall--of a popular iconography, Andy Warhol is perhaps the most single-minded and the most spectacular, I admit, to register an advance protest against the advent of a generation that will not be as moved by Warhol's beautiful, vulgar, heart-breaking icons of Marilyn Monroe as I am" (D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, p. 134).

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