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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
screenprint in colors with collage, on wove paper applied to drawing board, circa 1966, stamp-signed and numbered 'ARTIST PROOF # 4'
image: 37 x 17½ in. (940 x 450 mm.)
sheet: 40¼ x 29¾ in. (1020 x 760 mm.)
Leo Castelli, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1993

Lot Essay

In March 1967 the Velvet Underground released their debut album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, featuring on its cover Andy Warhol's Banana. In March 2012 the Banana itself became the subject of a legal battle as to whether the image was more synonymous with the artist or with the Rock group. Forty five years after its first appearance the Banana remains one of the artist's most popular and now controversial images. Warhol himself executed two versions of the Banana; one as the 11 x 11 in. LP cover, the first release of which had a peel-able yellow skin overlaid on top of a pink banana accompanied by the phrase 'Peel slowly and see'. Warhol also produced Banana (1966) a larger scale editioned screenprint (see Feldman and Schellman II.10), also with a removable skin. The present Banana is related to the 1966 screenprint, but with some key differences. Marked as an artist's proof, this Banana is most notably orientated upright (as was the LP cover whereas the Banana in the screenprint lies on its side.) Here the pink banana is printed onto thin board, and the collaged banana skin is printed on paper (the editioned work was printed on styrene). The word's 'Peel Skin Back Here' and the artist's stamped signature also appear on this version, contrary to the editioned work which carried no text. One other artist's proof, numbered '5' appeared at auction in 1999; this version also possessed unique elements, suggesting that Warhol used the artist's proofs as maquettes in his working process towards designing the screen-printed version.

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