ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
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ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
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Christie’s will require the use of a special paddl… Read more The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn
signed and dated 'Andy Warhol / 64' (on the overlap)
acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Leon Kraushar, New York
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Fred Mueller, New York
Private collection
Blum Helman Gallery, New York
S. I. Newhouse, New York
Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich, acquired from the above through Gagosian Gallery in 1986
Bequest from the above to the present owner
J. Coplans, Andy Warhol, London, 1970, p. 69 (illustrated).
R. Crone, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, p. 239, no. 71.
Warhol, Tate Gallery, exh. cat., London, 1971, p. 97, fig. 1 (illustrated and illustrated on the front cover).
F. Zdenek, "Die Kunst als eine Art der Dokumentation," Kunst Nachrichten, vol. 7, no. 6 February 1971 (illustrated).
R. Crone, Das bildnerische Werk Andy Warhols, Berlin, 1976, p. 331, no. 78.
W. Schmalenbach, Amerikaner. Kunst aus USA nach 1950, Düsseldorf, 1977, p. 35 (illustrated).
C. Ratcliff, Andy Warhol, Munich/Lucerne, 1984, p. 86, no. 82 (illustrated and illustrated on the front cover).
E. Billeter, "Ein Grosser starb: Andy Warhol," Art-Expo. Internationales Kunstjahrbuch, 1987, p. 239 (illustrated).
B. Curiger, Parkett No. 12. Collaboration Andy Warhol, 1987, p. 85 (illustrated).
D. Gimelson, "Ammann for all Seasons," Art and Auction, vol. 10, no. 4, 1987, p. 192 (illustrated).
K. Honnef, Andy Warhol 1928-1987. Kunst als Kommerz, Cologne, 1989, p. 15 (illustrated).
H. H. Holz, "Andy Warhol. Vom Mechanismus des Erfolgs," Artis, vol. 41, no. 7-8, July-August 1989, pp. 34-35 (illustrated).
L. Romain, "Pop Art," PAN. Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur, no. 11, 1991 (illustrated on the front cover).
T. Osterwold, Pop Art, Cologne, 1991 (illustrated on the front cover).
L. Romain, Andy Warhol, Munich, 1993, p. 12, no. 5 (illustrated).
A. Nemeczek, "Comeback mit Bildern aus dem zweiten Leben," Art. Das Kunstmagazin, no. 11, November 1993, p. 16 (illustrated).
M. Klant, Bildende Kunst 3. Sehen, Verstehen, Gestalten, Hanover, 1995 (illustrated on the front cover).
I. Walther, Malerei der Welt. Band II: Von der Romantik zur Gegenwart, Cologne, 1995, p. 659 (illustrated).
J. Tesch and E. Hollmann, Kunst! Das 20. Jahrhundert, Munich, 1997, p. 155 (illustrated)
J.M. Faerna, Andy Warhol. The Great Modern Master, New York, 1997, p. 41, pl. 35 (illustrated and illustrated on the front cover, incorrectly titled Turquoise Marilyn).
A. Nemeczek, Das Bild der Kunst, Cologne, 1999, pp. 14-15 (illustrated).
M. Chini, Pop art. Miti e linguaggio della comunicazione di massa, Florence, 2003, p. 38 (illustrated).
S. Watson, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties, Toronto, 2003, p. 174.
G. Frei and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, vol. 2A, London, 2004, pp. 275 and 278, no. 1293 (illustrated).
D. Fogle, Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters 1962-1964, Minneapolis, 2005, p. 16.
V. Bockris, Warhol: The Biography, Cambridge, 2009, p. 201.
J. Wilcock, The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol, New York, 2010, p. 50 (illustrated).
J. Blessing, Haunted. Contemporary Photography, Video, Performance, New York, 2010, p. 63.
S. Hunter, Modern Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Photography, New York, 2020 (illustrated on the front cover).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Photographic Image, January-February 1966, n.p., no. 28.
Pasadena Art Museum; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Andy Warhol, May-November 1970, p. 14, no. 105.
Zurich, Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Faces and Figures, June-September 1989, no. 29 (illustrated).
London, Royal Academy of Arts; Cologne, Museum Ludwig; Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Pop Art, September 1991-September 1992, p. 113, pl. 65, no. 244 (London, illustrated); pl. 63 (Cologne, illustrated); p. 117 (Madrid, illustrated).
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Andy Warhol. Series and Singles, September-December 2000, p. 135, no. 72 (illustrated).
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Les années Pop, March-June 2001, n.p., no. 64.43 (illustrated).
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol. Retrospective, October 2001-August 2002, p. 145, no. 96 (illustrated).
Zurich, Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Thirty Three Women, June-September 2003, no. 16 (illustrated).
Special notice
Christie’s will require the use of a special paddle to bid on this Lot 36A, Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn. This requires a separate pre-registration process to be completed at least 24 hours before the auction. If you intend to bid on this Lot, please contact Client Services at The buyer will be consulted by the Foundation about the projects and institutions which will be considered by the Foundation and the buyer can make suggestions in this regard. Under all circumstances, it is the Foundation which decides freely in its full discretion, following the objectives of the purpose of the Foundation and the applicable laws and regulations. The Foundation has the full and unrestricted discretion for its decisions how and for which projects/institutions it will use its funds. The independence of the decision making process of the Foundation must remain guaranteed. The above consultation with the buyer applies to the use of 20% of the net proceeds from the sale of “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”. For all amount in excess of the 20 % there it is not foreseen that a consultation takes place. This agreement with the buyer and the consultancy procedure are to be governed by a confidentiality undertaking of the buyer. The buyer must not inform any third party and in particular not the media about this consultation opportunity and any announcement of the support of a project/institution can only be made with the prior approval of the Foundation.
Sale room notice
Please note that the final lines of provenance have been updated to reflect the following:
S. I. Newhouse, New York
Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich, acquired from the above through Gagosian Gallery in 1986
Bequest from the above to the present owner

Brought to you by

Michael Baptist
Michael Baptist Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

There are few images in history that have the ability to transcend the time and place of their creation, surpassing even the reputation of their creator or the magnificence of their subject. From the classical beauty of the Venus de Milo and the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, to the sultry Sirens of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, the beauty of the human figure has inspired artists to extended their creativity to new heights. In the latter half of the twentieth-century, one woman captivated the world with her legendary looks, the Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe. This small town girl rose to become the most famous woman in the world, and today—sixty years after her death—the myth of Marilyn Monroe is still as potent as ever. This is due to one man: Andy Warhol, his unique ability to capture the humble beauty of a global superstar has seared her likeness onto our collective consciousness. His flawless rendering has become the image of Marilyn Monroe. It represents not only her physical attractiveness, but also her cultural power and enduring legacy. Through this image, she lives on forever as one of the definitive artistic icons of all time, a Mona Lisa for the twentieth-century.
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is Warhol’s ultimate depiction of his ultimate muse; an image that surpasses the transient nature of the actress’s life and the fame she endured. Distinguished by an inner luminosity, the screen idol’s legendary beauty radiates out from the surface of this large-scale painting. Her blond hair, piercing eyes, full-lips, and even her famous beauty spot are all rendered in a clarity and detail that is absent from other examples of Warhol’s famous screening process. Here, the flatness and uniformity of previous renderings of her famous locks have been replaced by an expansive sweep of voluminous curls executed with such skill that individual strands are highlighted; even the renegade coils that have escaped her hairdresser’s attention—such as the one just above her real right ear—are perfectly captured by Warhol in consecutive layers of yellow and black paint. Marilyn’s arched eyebrows define generous arcs of blue eyeshadow, which in turn frame her piercing deep blue eyes. The outline of her red lipstick perfectly hugs the outline of her full red lips and—to her real left—the iconic beauty spot sits proudly on the surface of her cheek. In addition to the obvious facial features, the clarity of Marilyn’s image is enhanced by Warhol’s sophisticated use of chiaroscuro. At her left temple, embracing her cheek and shrouding her neck, soft shadows add a unrivalled degree of depth and plasticity to Warhol’s iconic image.

The aesthetic superiority of Marilyn is the result of a radically different and more complex screening process that Warhol developed in 1964. In his earlier silkscreens of the actress, or any of his portraits executed between 1962 and 1964 for that matter, the colored elements were applied between two layers of black silkscreen ink. The use of a preparatory screened underlayer, followed by the elements of local color, following by another screening of black, often led to images that lacked a degree of crispness due to the difficulty of accurately lining up the three independent layers of screening. This often led to “ghost-images,” where the eye shadow or red lips, for example, extended beyond the physical features defined by the black screened layers. On occasions it also led to somewhat blurry images as subsequent layers merged together somewhat unsuccessfully.

By mid-1964, and Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, where local color was required there is little evidence of a preliminary silkscreen impression, and the registration of the uppermost black screen and color is virtually seamless. Warhol had arrived at a new method for registering local colors, using a positive image that his silkscreen maker would print on acetate and provide him as a proof. Warhol was then able to trace this image onto the canvas as an under-drawing, guiding both the hand-painted local color and the subsequent black layer. Both Gerrard Malanga and Mark Lancaster—frequent visitors to the Factory during this period—also observed that the tracing was partially masked with tape, allowing the local color to be applied by hand with much greater clarity and precision. This new, more intricate, method ultimately proved to be too time consuming for the famously impatient artist, and Warhol abandoned

It is these facets that have come to define Monroe as the modern epitome of beauty. More than sixty years after her death, her likeness continues to act as the benchmark against which others are judged, even being resurrected through the use of artificial intelligence to continue to sell products all over the world. She joins a pantheon of women—both fictional and actual—who have become symbols of supranatural beauty. The origins of Marilyn’s cultural resonance can be traced back at least 2,000 years to Ancient Greece and the statues of Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love), and Venus, her Roman equivalent. Like Marilyn’s image, Aphrodite’s likeness was everywhere in the classical world, and even today Aphrodites and Venuses survive at ancient sites and in museums all over the world. Carved in marble, the Greek goddess’s enigmatic gaze, sensual hour-glass figure, and contrapposto stance gave birth to the symbolic language of beauty, and has been repeated throughout the two millennia since, up to—and including—Warhol’s depiction Marilyn herself. “The ‘classical Venus’,” write Classicists Mary Bear and Jonathan Henderson, “whether in museums, on billboards, or even outside a casino, can easily become a generic image, closed and finished in its effect; [it is] an icon to stand for eternal loveliness, sublime aesthetics…” (M. Beard and J. Henderson, Classical Art: From Greece to Rome, Oxford, 2001, p. 115). Even their original polychromatic appearance, due to the brightly painted surfaces that have long since disappeared, bears a striking resemblance to the brilliance of Warhol’s Pop aesthetic.

Due to their celebration of humanism, and its reverence of the art and literature of classical antiquity, Renaissance painters and sculptors continued to champion the art of classical Greece and Rome as the basis for their ideas of beauty. They began to interpret, copy and reproduce the statues and paintings that were being rediscovered at the time, inserting their own requirements, and those of their patrons in the process. For example, the image of Venus as portrayed by Botticelli as the idealization of ultimate beauty from his perspective in Renaissance Florence, is significantly different to that of the Northern Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder. His idealization becomes less voluptuous, less about physical appearance, while maintaining her sexual vitality. Even Raphael’s paintings epitomize the idolization of female beauty of the period, but by his own admission, they were rarely based on his observation of real models.

This idea reaches its peak with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Although thought to be a portrait of an Italian noblewoman, Lisa Gherardini, little—if anything—is actually know about da Vinci’s sitter. Although this is now arguably one of the most famous paintings in the world, her identity, and more importantly her character has been lost to time. She has been reduced to her physical features: her gently crossed hands, engaging stare and enigmatic smile. Warhol would have been fully aware of the universal power of the image of the Mona Lisa, as he had witnessed the “Mona-mania” that had occurred the previous year when the painting undertook a wildly successful tour of the United States, with people queuing in their thousands outside the National Gallery in Washington and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for their chance to see her in person.

With his depiction of Marilyn, Warhol takes this ultimate depiction of fame and beauty to its ultimate conclusion. In a world dominated by mass media, where Marilyn was featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles, her fans already knew everything about her (or at least what the Hollywood publicity machine wanted them to know). In this depiction, Warhol does not seek to provide psychological introspection, instead relying purely on the power of the image to celebrate the image itself. Just like da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, what we see is all we need to know. Thus, just as the depiction of beauty in Renaissance art has been shown to be more complex than a mere photograph-like representation of the sitter, Warhol, like the Renaissance artists before him, created physically perfect images resulting from scholarly introspection, his developing skills, and fused with his own ambition.

Warhol’s image of Marilyn has become so recognizable and so iconic that it has eclipsed even the photographic images of the star when she was live. At the height of her fame, she was emblematic of the glamor of Hollywood, a cultural phenomenon that permeated the world. Adam Gopnik, the author of the 2020 biography on the artist, points out that in 1962—when Warhol produced his first screened images of the actress—he was reading a book by a French intellectual who argued that Marilyn had deep social meaning for a postwar world; with her ferocious sexuality and sultry looks she was the perfect symbol of the postwar Western renaissance and the epitome of the American Dream. Gopnik points out this would continue after her death, and today her “brand” is stronger than ever. “He turns Marilyn Monroe’s unique face into just another product on the supermarket shelf, surrounded by more of the same. In branding terms, she was the ‘Heinz’ to Liz Taylor’s ‘Hunts’” (B. Gopnick, Warhol, New York, 2020, p. 18).

Gopnik goes on to argue that it was not Warhol’s decision to immortalize Marilyn that was important, but the way in which he did it. He did not choose to depict Marilyn through his own visual aesthetic like other artists—he felt as though his subject was all there was to be seen—it was the fact that he choose to use a pre-existing image (a publicity still from the movie Niagara) as his source image. Warhol was very plugged into the power of photography in the twentieth-century, and throughout his life would become a devotee of the medium, either through his cult films, or the fact that he very often carried a small camera around with him documenting the people and the places he encountered. The scholar Hal Foster explains that Pop Art is all about presenting an image homo imago – of human beings as they are shaped by the photographed reality they’ve created for themselves. Today, this idea has culminated in the dominance of the social media influencer, demonstrating that this theory is still alive and well, and in many ways, Warhol’s iconic rendering of Monroe has become the face that has launched a million other faces (and subsequently, careers and branding opportunities). Warhol’s ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ one-liner has never been more relevant or true.

Thus, Marilyn Monroe is Warhol’s quintessential subject, and her image not only came to define his career, but also that of the entire Pop era. Although the pair never met in person, their ‘relationship’ began shortly after the actress’s suicide in 1962, when the artist produced his first image of her, his iconic Gold Marilyn Monroe, now one of the cornerstones of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Surrounded by a halo of gleaming gold, Marilyn’s rudimentary features are laid out using broad passages of pink, turquoise, red and blue paint. Yet this image of Marilyn is relatively small, and being subsumed in a sea of gold makes it difficult to appreciate the precise nature of her beauty. In the present work, the scale and the close cropping of this particular image allows her famed beauty to be conspicuously displayed. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn sets the new standard for Warhol’s depiction of his muse and thus becomes the ultimate expression of adulation.

This paintings also enters ‘Warhol-lore’ as one of the famous Shot Marilyns, a group of four paintings involved in an infamous event that took place at the Factory in the fall of 1964. Warhol had just completed a set of five 40 x 40 inch canvases of Marilyn (the four Shot Marilyns plus Turquoise Marilyn) using his new screening process, when he was visited by his friend Ray Johnson and a woman named Dorothy Podber. She was a sometime performance artist and the owner of outlandish pets including an ocelot which she took for walks around New York’s Central Park. She was also known as a photographer and when she entered the Factory and saw Andy silkscreening, she asked if she could shoot them. Assuming that she meant photograph his latest work, Warhol agreed. Podber promptly took a gun from purse and fired a single shot at the canvases leant up against the wall. She then put the gun back in her purse and left.

Subsequently the paintings became among the most celebrated of the twentieth-century postwar canon, each with provenance to match. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, was first acquired by the legendary New York Pop collector Leon Kraushar. During an intense period in the early 1960s, Kraushar—an advertising executive—amassed one of the greatest collections of Pop Art ever assembled. Kraushar and his wife acquired many early works by Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Among his early purchases were the now legendary Red Jackie, Green Liz and Orange Marilyn, all of which were displayed alongside Licthenstein’s iconic Nurse in bedroom of Kraushar’s suburban Long Island home. The painting was then acquired by Fred Mueller, the influential contemporary art dealer and former partner in the Pace Gallery along with Arne and Eva Glimcher. Subsequently, S.I. Newhouse, the owner of the Condé Naste magazine empire, acquired the painting in the early 1970s, before Thomas Ammann acquired it in the early 1980s, and in whose private collection it has remained ever since.

Ammann built a reputation as one of the most respected dealers and gallery owners in the world. After leaving school at 18, he worked for the legendary dealer Swiss Bruno Bischofberger, before opening his eponymous gallery, Thomas Ammann Fine Art, in Zürich in 1977. Together with his older sister, Doris, he quickly became one of the pre-eminent dealers in Impressionist and twentieth-century art including works by Matisse, Picasso, Giacometti, and Francis Bacon. They boasted a client list that included all of the world’s top collectors who appreciated his knowledge, his highly-sophisticated eye, and—perhaps most importantly—his discretion. In addition to acquiring works for his private clients, Thomas was also instrumental in placing major works in international museum and institutional collections, including Max Ernst’s The Blessed Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus Before Three Witness in the Ludwig Museum and Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Joseph Roulin at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. When Thomas died in 1993, Doris took over the running of the gallery, building on her brother’s legacy, while at the same time introducing a new generation of contemporary artist’s to collectors around the world.

Thomas and Andy Warhol became close friends after being introduced by his mentor Bruno Bischofberger. Warhol was a frequent visitor to Thomas’s house in Switerland, and the pair quickly became close friends. In 1977, Ammann initiated a project to produce an authoritative catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, and working Warhol began the daunting task of assembling the material needed for such a monumental undertaking. In 2002, under the editorship of Georg Frei and Neil Printz, the first of the current five volumes was published. In 1978, Thomas also organized a large retrospective exhibition of Warhol’s work at the Kunsthaus in Zurich which did much to bolster Warhol’s reputation in Europe.

Thus, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn represents the pinnacle of Andy Warhol’s career. It is a superlative example of the silkscreening technique that catapulted the artist to cultural superstardom, and defined the look and aesthetic of an entire generation. As a child, Warhol attended the Church of St John Chrysostom in his native Pittsburg. As he looked up at the pantheon of gleaming icons from Eastern Orthodox Church, he would have known that these were not his icons, not the kind of deities he could believe in. Andy’s gods and goddesses would be the Hollywood celebrities that he—and countless millions of others around the world—worshipped every time they went to a movie theater, switched on the TV, or opened a newspaper or magazine. Yet despite the countless times Marilyn’s image has been reproduced in whatever media, it is Warhol’s image of her that has become the most iconic. In 1968, Warhol declared that “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” and with remarkable prescience, he was right. With the advent of social media more people have more opportunity to create more images. And yet, only a handful of these become embedded in our global consciousness, and Warhol’s image of Marilyn has entered this lexicon. Aphrodite, Venus, the Mona Lisa and Monroe: Marilyn has become the ultimate icon for today’s image obsessed world.

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