Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Christie’s is delighted to have been appointed by UniCredit to manage the sale of artworks from Austria, Germany and Italy. The proceeds will be primarily used to support the further roll-out of the Group’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiatives. The remaining balance will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the support of emerging artists. Following the excellent results of a selection of artworks already presented at various Christie’s international salerooms in 2019, 2020 will begin with the first pieces being offered in London on 6 February as part of the Impressionist & Modern Art Day and Works on Paper sales. UniCredit will also look to replace the masterpieces sold with works of young and emerging artists. The offering is led by Walter Dexel’s Segelschiff I, one of only five known avant-gardist representations of sailing boats within the German artist’s series of works on technical modern inventions. Completed in 1922, this superb example of Dexel’s distinct Constructivist idiom dates from a key period when the artist came into close contact with a network of influential figures of the early 20th-century art circuit namely Jean (Hans) Arp, El Lissitzky and contemporaries associated with the Bauhaus movement including the likes of Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius. Another star lot from this outstanding group is a work by a member of Dexel’s circle – Kurt Schwitters’ Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. The painting combines large areas of delicately painted geometric shapes, organic abstract forms and collage elements – exemplary of Schwitters’ growing interest in the raw and tactile physicality of paint during the late period of his artistic career. An exceptional selection from the Works on Paper sale completes the grouping, with three other fantastic works by Schwitters, Dexel’s Quadrat und Kreis (circa 1926) and Franz Radziwill’s Strandszene mit Krüppeln (1922). Social Impact Banking is part of UniCredit’s commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive society. It aims to identify, finance and promote people and companies that can have a positive social impact. As well as continuing to provide credit to projects and organisations not usually served by the traditional banking sector, UniCredit employees educate micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, building valuable networks within our communities. SIB also focuses on monitoring and measuring outcomes, essential for sustainable growth. In 2019 SIB focused on further roll-out in additional UniCredit markets, including: Germany, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. UniCredit is a successful pan-European Commercial Bank, with a fully plugged in CIB, delivering a unique Western, Central and Eastern European network to its extensive client franchise. UniCredit offers both local and international expertise to its clients, providing them with unparalleled access to leading banks in its fourteen core markets through its European banking network. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another eighteen countries worldwide. ART FOR FUTURE – SELECTED WORKS FROM THE UNICREDIT GROUP
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)


Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
signed and dated ‘Andy Warhol 64’ (on the overlap)
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
24 x 24in. (61 x 61cm.)
Executed in 1964
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (Leo Castelli number (LC 82) listed).
William Zierler Gallery, New York.
Galleria La Medusa, Rome.
Banca di Roma, Rome (acquired from the above in 1974).
G. Frei and N. Printz (eds.), The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, vol. 2A, New York 2004, p. 302.
Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, Pop Art 1956-1968, 2007-2008, p. 262, no. 90 (alternate orientation illustrated in colour, p. 263).
Vienna, Bank Austria Kunstforum, Past Present Future: Highlights from the UniCredit Group Collection, 2009-2010, p. 114 (with incorrect measurements; alternate orientation illustrated in colour, p. 115; illustrated, p. 180).
Herford, MARTA Herford, Things are Queer: Highlights of Art Collection UniCredit, 2011, pp. 96 and 193 (alternate orientation illustrated in colour, p. 97).
Pisa, Palazzo Blu, Andy Warhol: una storia americana, 2013-2014 (alternate orientation illustrated in colour, p. 69). This exhibition later travelled to Tampere, Sara Hildén Art Museum.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

Against a rich, green ground, four vibrant flowers bloom in Andy Warhol’s Flowers (1964). Painted during the same year as his legendary exhibition of Flower paintings at Leo Castelli’s New York gallery – then the centre of the post-war art world – it stems from one of his most iconic series of works. Created at the apex of his artistic powers, Warhol’s Flowers represent the culmination of his painterly development during the 1960s. Based on a seemingly innocuous image from a magazine, their subject was something of a reversal for the artist, who had for so long trained his eye on celebrity culture and consumerist iconography. Though their bright, joyful appearance ostensibly offered a departure from his recent Death and Disaster paintings, these serial reductions of nature ultimately gave rise to one of his most subversive critiques of contemporary image production. Their abstract, flattened petals and vivid cosmetic colouring undermine the romantic sense of wonder usually associated with the art-historical genre of flower painting. Like his portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, they shed a disarming and enthralling light on the notion of mass-produced beauty. As curator John Coplans wrote, ‘What is incredible about the best of the flower paintings is that they present a distillation of much of the strength of Warhol's art – the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer's gaze’ (J. Coplans, Andy Warhol, Pasadena 1970, p. 52).

Warhol derived his source image from an article in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography, where it was used to illustrate Kodak colour processes. From the vivid photograph of hibiscuses, he flattened the details into a simplified silhouette, here rendered in orange, purple and blue. Hoping the artist would seek out an alternative to the dark subject matter that had occupied him for much of the 1960s, the curator Henry Geldzahler allegedly pointed Warhol in the direction of the magazine. ‘I looked around the studio and it was all Marilyn and disasters and death’, Geldzahler recalled. ‘I said, “Andy, maybe it’s enough death now.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, how about this?” I opened a magazine to four flowers’ (H. Geldzahler, quoted in unpublished interview with J. Stein, 1973, Geldzahler Papers, Beinecke Library). For the Flowers, Warhol reduced the number of blossoms in the original shot from seven to four and cropped the image into a square. To further eliminate any details, the image was then run through The Factory’s Photostat machine at least ‘a dozen times’. His assistant, Billy Linich, remembered how Warhol ‘didn’t want it to look like a photo at all. He just wanted the shape, the basic outline, of the flowers’ (B. Linich, quoted in T. Scherman and D. Dalton, Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol, New York 2009, p. 327).

Castelli recognised early on that Warhol’s radical innovation extended far beyond the subjects of his images. ‘I was interested in Pop art but for its formal qualities, you see’, he explained. ‘… It was probably his serial imagery, the fact of repetition, that made something [to me] more important than what the images were about’ (L. Castelli interviewed by P. Cummings, 14 May 1969 – 8 June 1973, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute). Indeed, the possibility of permutation is what distinguishes Warhol’s Flowers from art-historical interpretations of the subject. Unlike the floral still-lifes of the Dutch Golden Age or Monet’s waterlily paintings, Warhol’s flattening and serialisation of the image counteracts the sentimentality, romance and singularity typically associated with the genre. The seemingly banal nature of his source, moreover, speaks to his desire to shift his commentary away from the subject itself, highlighting instead the macabre implications of mechanical reproduction. The magazine’s cheerful reproduction of petals and grass suggested that nature, in the age of technology, was simply another commodity available for appropriation by the snap-happy consumer. In its serial transition into paint, this once-functional image took on a new kind of dark, seductive allure. ‘They are so goddamn beautiful’, wrote Peter Schjeldahl. ‘And so simple. And their glamour was so intense ... That’s why we reach for the word “genius” … He sees clearly. He just does it’ (P. Schjeldahl, quoted in T. Sherman and D. Dalton, ibid., pp. 236-37).

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

View All
View All