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Cagney
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Cagney
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Cagney

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NY, US
US

About the item

In the early 1960s, when Andy Warhol first developed what was to later become his legendary silkscreen process, images of pop culture’s most adored, gossiped about and famed celebrities dominated his subject matter. While Hollywood’s sirens—Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, most notably—were represented in these first works by reproduced, serially printed publicity shots, the men were contrastingly depicted both in character and in action. The present work, Cagney (1962/4), for example, is a fantastic unique work on paper, which depicts an intense James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).\nDramatically cornered, Cagney’s character, the ruthless mobster Rocky Sullivan, is confronted by the ominous shadow of his adversary’s machine gun. Cagney, too, is armed, and the incensed, hostile look upon his face typifies cinema’s cold-blooded gangster. Here, themes of acting, fame and viewership not only collectively define the work, but also boldly highlight America’s fascination with powerful and daring leading men. Accordingly, Cagney anticipates other early silkscreen paintings by Warhol, such as Silver Marlon (1963) and Double Marlon (1966), which depict Marlon Brando as a leather-clad biker in The Wild One (1953). Likewise, the present work is preemptive of Triple Elvis (1962) and Single Elvis (1963), wherein an image of the gun-toting Elvis Presley from Flaming Star (1960) is both multiplied and aggrandized. In the case of the Elvis cycle specifically, the prominence of the cowboy’s pistol forces the viewer to stare down the barrel of the gun, immediately recalling the impending doom of Cagney’s predicament. As the subjects of each respective work grip their weapons, their raw, animalistic facial expressions allude to the danger they both face and project. Their challengers, meanwhile, remain outside the picture in both instances, thus impelling the viewer to piece together the narrative, either from prior knowledge of the films or via his or her own imagination.\n\nRegarding the present work, Cagney’s storyline is further disguised by the white bands that overlap the firearms and blur additional details, almost as if the emulsion of the film has run or dried erratically. Warhol’s silk-screening process had the wonderful quality of producing these variant results not only within a single work, but also across multiple prints of the same image. Such discrepancies were an innate result of the procedure: the irregular quantity of ink that seeped through the screen and onto the paper during any one impression was, for Warhol, both a guarantee of the print’s originality, as well as an aesthetically rich effect. In this way, Cagney is unquestionably one of a kind; its singular dispersion of ink - dark and heavy in the actor’s shadow at right, while light and imperfect in the opposition’s shadow at left - is indeed why Warhol considered this work unique.\n\nWarhol’s initial experimentation with the silkscreen process upon paper was not limited to scenes from Cagney’s rough and tough film. Most relevantly, The Kiss (Bela Lugosi) from 1963, shares the cinematic sourcing of the present work as it features the famous interpreter of Bram Stoker’s vampire and Helen Chandler in a dangerous, sultry scene from Dracula (1931). Of both works, curator Wendy Weitman remarks, “These are among Warhol’s earliest printed efforts, printed by the artist himself in the black-and-white monotone of their film sources. They reveal his initial painterly approach to the medium, evidenced by the white streaks that run through the images. The frozen, cinematic effect of these works is enhanced by these dynamic marks which, although made by the action of the printing squeegee, suggest the scratchiness of rough-cut film.” (Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Pop Impressions- Europe/USA: Prints and Multiples from the Museum of Modern Art, 1999, p.41)\n\nTo similar effect, Warhol also created a Cagney painting, most likely using the same screen as that of the unique paper works. Whereas the latter pieces feature a single image, the former consists of five screens vertically positioned one on top of the other. The canvas painting, too, differs from the present Cagney in that the entirety of the enemy’s body is pictured. This imposing figure appears completely shadowed and hunched over his gun, dwarfing Cagney in the far right of the painting. In comparing these Cagney works, Weitman notes, “…Warhol dramatically cropped the still for this work on paper, creating a tighter close up around Cagney and highlighting his disturbing, angry expression. This smaller image is far more mysterious and menacing, as the threatening, floating rifle juts in from the left edge.” (Ibid.)\n\nConsequent of this hands-on approach also, the Cagney work on paper is markedly differentiated from Warhol’s later, more mechanical and commercial prints. In this example, the artist’s personal admiration for the stardom achieved by both Cagney and notorious outlaws in general is evident. No doubt, the clipped image is intentionally detailed and intimate, so as to reveal the thug’s vulnerability; as the main focal point of the piece, Cagney becomes noticeably humanized. Here, Cagney is certainly more than just a wanted man - he is genuinely romanticized, pitied and envied all at once.\nSigned and dated 64 on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

notes

Please note there is a guarantee and irrevocable bid on this lot. Please note the additional provenance:Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC# D-26)Ben Birillo, New York (acquired from the above in May 1966)Sylvio Perlstein, AntwerpChristophe van de Weghe Fine Art, New York (acquired from the above in 2000)Acquired by the present owner from the above

medium

Unique silkscreen print on paper

creator

Andy Warhol

condition

This work is in excellent condition. The paper tone has very slightly darkened overtime to the extreme edges of the sheet, and there is a very slight horizontal undulation to the sheet, especially to the lower half, that is probably inherent to the media and artist's method. On the reverse of the sheet, some of the undulations exhibit rubmarks from contact with a previous backing board. The sheet is hinged to ragboard and framed in a metal strip frame under Plexiglas. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

30 x 40 in. 76.2 x 101.6 cm.

exhibition

New York, The American Federation of the Arts, Nostalgia and the Contemporary American Artist, October 1968 - October 1969, cat. no. 35 Antwerp, Galerie Ronny Van de Velde, Andy Warhol Prints, September - November 1988 New York, Christophe Van de Weghe Fine Art, Andy Warhol: Works on paper from the early '60s, November - December 2000, cat. no. 12, n.p., illustrated in color  Monaco, Grimaldi Forum, SuperWarhol, July - August 2003, cat. no. 43, p. 74, illustrated in color Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, temporary loan, September 2005 - May 2006 Columbus, Wexner Center for the Arts, Andy Warhol Other Voices, Other Rooms, September 2008 - February 2009

literature

Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, 4th Edition revised and expanded by Frayda Feldman and Claudia Defendi, New York, 2003, p. 46, cat. no. 1.1

provenance

Sylvio Perlstein, Antwerp Christophe Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York (acquired from the above in 2000) Acquired by the present owner from the above

signedDate

Signed and dated 64 on the reverse

creator_nationality_dates

1928 - 1987


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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