STURTEVANT (1924-2014)
STURTEVANT (1924-2014)
STURTEVANT (1924-2014)
STURTEVANT (1924-2014)
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STURTEVANT (1924-2014)

Warhol Four Marilyns

STURTEVANT (1924-2014)
Warhol Four Marilyns
signed, titled, inscribed and dated '"4 Marilyns" B/W Orange E Sturtevant '73' (on the reverse)
silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas
32 x 25 1⁄8in. (81.3 x 63.9cm.)
Executed in 1973
Stux Gallery, New York.
Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Sturtevant, exh. cat., Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, 1992 (illustrated, p. 24).
L. Maculan (ed.), Sturtevant Catalogue Raisonné 1964-2004, Ostfildern 2004, p. 183, no. 186 (installation view at Museum für Moderne Kunst in 2004-2005 illustrated in colour, p. 82; illustrated in colour, p. 90).
P. Lee, Sturtevant: Warhol Marilyn, London 2016, p. 10 (installation view at Museum für Moderne Kunst in 2004-2005 illustrated, p. 8).
Syracuse, Everson Museum, Sturtevant. Studies for Warhols’ Marilyns, Beuys’ Actions and Objects, Duchamps’ Etc. Including Film [sic], 1973, unpaged.
Frankfurt, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Sturtevant: The Brutal Truth, 2004-2005, pp. 62 and 202 (illustrated in colour, p. 63).

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Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Part of the esteemed collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann, Warhol Four Marilyns is a dazzling example of Sturtevant’s ground-breaking appropriation practice. Made in 1973, and included in her first institutional solo exhibition at the Everson Museum, Syracuse that year, it belongs to her celebrated series based on Warhol’s iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Repeating the artist’s silkscreens according to his own method, Sturtevant called into question the singularity of art. It was an issue wrestled with by Warhol himself: his serial images of everyday icons, based on mass-circulated photographs, asked what it meant to make a painting in the age of mechanical reproduction. Operating at the height of Warhol’s celebrity, Sturtevant turned his own mirror back upon him. Where many of her Marilyns reproduced Warhol’s works in almost exact detail, here the artist inverts the colour combination of his 1962 silkscreen. The results lay bare questions of authorship, authenticity and originality, paving the way for the emergence of postmodern art and discourse.

As part of the Ammanns’ collection, the present work sat alongside major Warholian masterpieces, including his legendary Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964). The relationship between the work of the two artists remains uncanny. By 1965, just three years after his first series of Marilyns, Sturtevant had convinced Warhol to grant her access to his Factory, where she was able to study his silkscreen process in detail. Her first works, shown at the Bianchini Gallery that year, took his celebrated Flowers as their muse. His Marilyns, however—iconic, tragic and seductive—captured her imagination. Produced shortly after Monroe’s death, their luminous colours stood in sharp contrast to the actress’s dark fate, offering a piercing commentary on a society addicted to image consumption. Unable to find the original stencil, Sturtevant managed to locate the exact image that Warhol himself had used: a publicity still of Monroe’s 1953 film Niagara. ‘… It was perfect’, she recalled. ‘A Warhol screen from my photo which was his photo’ (E. Sturtevant, quoted in P. Lee, Sturtevant: Warhol Marilyn, London 2016, pp. 19-20).

Sturtevant appealed to Warhol’s love of smoke and mirrors. On one famous occasion, when quizzed about his silkscreen process, he suggested that the interviewer ask her instead. While Sturtevant knew his methods inside out, however, she ultimately produced her works from memory, giving rise to small discrepancies with their original counterparts. Her inversion of Warhol’s colour in the present work was strangely prophetic: his own series of Reversals in the 1980s would perform a similar switch, reversing the tonal values of his early Marilyns. Sturtevant, indeed, was ahead of her time in more ways than one. She read Gilles Deleuze’s Différence et répétition (1968) prior to its English translation, absorbing his thesis that repeating something revealed its true nature. Her relentless application of this principle to artworks—from paintings by Jasper Johns, to the sculptures of Joseph Beuys—foreshadowed the work of Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine and other members of the 1970s Pictures Generation. The present work, however, gives nothing of this prescience away, its enigmatic allure still poker-faced half a century on.

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