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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Camouflage

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Camouflage
stamped with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamp and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts stamp and numbered ‘PA 85.062’ (on the overlap)
synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
12 x 10in. (30.5 x 25.4cm.)
Executed in 1986
Provenance
Estate of Andy Warhol.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.
Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Camouflage, 1998-1999, no. 44 (illustrated in colour).
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Post lot text
The work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York.

Lot Essay

‘Abstraction was not only a way to be taken more seriously, but also– and much more significantly – a refuge from difficulties of reality.
In that sense, the Camouflage paintings, in all their formal abstract splendour, can be seen as true portraits of Andy Warhol’s inner-self’ (B. Colacello, ‘Andy Warhol, Abstraction, and the Camouflage Paintings’, Andy Warhol Camouflage, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 1998, p. 9).

With its vibrant green and blue palette, Camouflage belongs to the important series of paintings that Andy Warhol created in 1986, shortly before his death the following year. Obliquely referencing the colour fields of Abstract Expressionism with the cool indifference of Pop Art, the Camouflage works derived from a forty inches sample of fabric netting that Warhol purchased from an Army surplus store. Warhol cropped and selected areas of this sample to create subtle variations in the pattern’s articulation. Executed late in his
career, the Camouflage works stand as visual metaphors for their creator: an artist who, throughout his life, presented himself to the world through various filters of enigma and disguise. During the last years of his life Warhol became obsessed by his own mortality, and it is perhaps fitting that his last canvases are also amongst his most deeply personal. Coterminous with Warhol’s celebrated final series of Self-Portraits, the Camouflage paintings may be seen to operate within a similar framework. As Bob Colacello, one of Andy’s
inner circle, wrote, ‘Abstraction was not only a way to be taken more seriously, but also – and much more significantly– a refuge from difficulties of reality. In that sense, the Camouflage paintings, in all their formal abstract splendour, can be seen as true portraits of Andy Warhol’s inner-self’ (B. Colacello, ‘Andy Warhol, Abstraction, and the Camouflage Paintings’, Andy Warhol Camouflage, exh. cat. Gagosian Gallery, New York 1998, p. 9). After a decade of work dominated by celebrity portraiture, between 1978 and 1987 Warhol took on many new challenges, experimenting with abstraction, new media and subject matter. During the early 1970s, Warhol had applied layers of Abstract Expressionist-like paint over his images, intentionally referencing a painterly style that he and his Pop Art peers had rebelled against in the 1960s. His camouflage pattern may be understood as an extension of this, and indeed was variously applied on top of a number of other images, including The Last Supper, Joseph Beuys and the Self-Portraits, all of which were executed between 1985 and 1986. The Camouflage paintings are among Warhol’s most technically complex works. The paintings were made at Rupert Smith’s silkscreening studio under the constant supervision of Warhol, who would discuss, in-depth, the progress of each canvas. Warhol would personally place the screens upon the canvas, intentionally positioning them off center and overlapping the edges. Four colours of ink were then selected and squeezed or brushed on by hand, with varying densities and pressures giving rise to a rich surface texture. Warhol’s intention was not to replicate the precision of the original army fabric, but rather to build on the potential for variation latent in the silkscreening process. As the artist explained, ‘With silkscreening, you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different, each time. It was all so simple – quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it’ (A. Warhol & P. Hackett, Popism: the Warhol Sixties, New York 1980, p.22).

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