Andy Warhol's prints after Munch were never published, and exist only in rare, unique colour variants. This and the following three lots offer the opportunity to acquire works which, powerfully and extraordinarily, combine and reflect the spirit of two great artists who - at first glance - seem diametrically opposed.
Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch? The urbane, fashionable and slightly shrill figure of Andy Warhol is completely at odds with our image of Munch as solitary, quiet and deeply melancholic character. Yet we now know that behind Andy Warhol's deliberately artificial public persona was a shy and lonely man. Unlikely as it seems, he may have felt an affinity with the tortured soul of Edvard Munch. The fact that Warhol chose Munch's Self-Portrait with Skeleton's Arm of 1895 as one of his motifs suggests a certain personal interest, if not identification, with the other artist.
Artistically, the two were also not as different as one is inclined to think: both were dedicated printmakers and produced some of their most successful and memorable works in the medium of prints. Both were great experimenters, intensely interested in the effects of colours and colour combinations, and produced their prints systematically in a variety of versions, as Warhol's two radically different impressions of The Scream (lots 175 and 176) offered here eloquently demonstrate.
Yet what interested Warhol probably most in Munch's works was their fame. 'Icon' is a word often used to describe Warhol's subjects. By the 1980s, famous works of modern art had become commodities, mass-reproduced and easily consumed in the shape of posters, souvenirs and trinkets. Works like The Scream had become pop icons like Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse or Superman. Possibly no other modern artist's images had become as popular and instantly recognisable as the most celebrated works of Edvard Munch. It is not by chance then that Warhol chose Munch for this peculiar posthumous cooperation. By further manipulating and serialising these images, which had been trivialised through mass reproduction, Warhol makes us see them afresh and experience their emotional force once more.