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Dollar Sign
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Dollar Sign
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Dollar Sign

US
NY, US
US

About the item

The greatest love affair of Warhols artistic life, it can be argued, was with money. Allison Unruh, Signs of Desire: Warhols Depictions of Dollars in: Exh. Cat., Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Andy Warhol Enterprises, 2011, p. 137.\n\nDollar Sign perfectly captures Andy Warhols extraordinary ability to appropriate, subvert, and reinvent the motifs of consumer culture using his inimitable Pop aesthetic. Forming a part of the iconic Dollar Signs that were executed in 1981, the present work is a magnificent explication of one of Warhols primary, career-long, concerns: the social, cultural and creative potential of the American dollar as a signifier of status and wealth. Executed in monumental proportions, Dollar Sign is an absolute explosion of color and impresses through a mix of powerful and fluorescent orange, green, blue and lilac tones. The larger-than-life dollar sign is silkscreened in Warhols idiosyncratic printing technique against a sleek, flat background. While painterly in essence, the graphic quality is very much palpable through the vivid and expressive movement of line, particularly the hatchings visible in the lower half of the sweeping S shape. With an exceptional combination of color and line, Dollar Sign forms a stunning visual alliteration of Warhols iconic art/money dialectic. Articulated in expressive colors and extolling the graphic fluency of Warhols stylized dollar sign drawings, the present work is archetypal of the chromatic brilliance and graphic aesthetic that defines this celebrated series. Extremely rare, Dollar Sign is one of only a few works from this pivotal body of work that is signed by the artist himself.\nWarhols Dollar Signs are the ultimate manifestation of perhaps the most salient inquiry in Pop art history: the relationship between art and commerce. Warhols lifelong fascination with money as an ubiquitous symbol of wealth, power, and status spans his entire oeuvre as a key leitmotif and inextricably links his art with his own biography. As such, the Dollar Signs stand in direct reference to Warhols works from the early 1960s in which he first employed the silkscreen to transfer dollar bills onto canvases. Returning to this iconography as a mature artist in the 1980s, the Dollar Signs not only scrutinize the dichotomy between low and high art that is so quintessentially Warholian, but also confront the prominent American symbol as a potent visual instrument charged with ambiguous significance. Indeed, he had often commented on the beauty of the dollar bill itself: American money is very well-designed, really. I like it better than any other kind of money. Ive thrown it in the East River down by the Staten Island Ferry just to see it float. (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, New York 1975, p. 137) Similar to his iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, or images of mass-market consumables, such as the Campbells soup cans or Coca-Cola bottles, the Dollar Signs explore the universal recognizability and semiotic power of cultural icons that comprise everyday life.\nWhen first exhibited at Leo Castellis Greene Street Gallery in 1982, the seemingly endless succession of dollar signs on the wall transformed the space into a veritable temple of financial worship articulated in the artists inimitable palette of bright Pop colors. The deliberate repetition of an instantly recognizable icon of mass culture seemed to openly celebrate and embrace consumerism and commerce. Just as Warhols first exhibition of Flower Paintings at Castelli in 1964 had provoked critical debate for the repeated display of a singular subject, so did the Dollar Sign exhibition of 1982. At the time, art was still somewhat celebrated as an arena for pious exclusivity that was supposedly above and beyond the earthly or vulgar realm of monetary value. (Trevor Fairbrother, ABC Dollar in Exh. Cat., New York, Van de Weghe Fine Art, Andy Warhol: Dollar Signs, 2004, p. 14) Warhol, however, seems to have anticipated the global art boom and the resulting influx of wealth that was about to define the 1980s, a period that would openly celebrate and even endorse the marriage of art and money. As Warhol poignantly put it himself, Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did the thing called 'Art' or whatever it's called, I went into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business Artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business they'd say, 'Money is bad,' and 'Working is bad,' but making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. (Andy Warhol, op. cit., New York 1975, p. 92)\nRepeating the emblem of capitalism ad infinitum, the Dollar Signs form a conceptual and political pendant to Warhols earlier Hammer and Sickle paintings (1976-77). Juxtaposing the iconic emblem of Communism, and its attendant Marxist theories of value based on labor with the capitalist theory of value based on exchange, Warhol exposed the iconographic power of symbols that represent antagonistic value systems during the Cold War years. The ritualized repetition of the US dollar sign as charged with social and cultural meaning also recalls Warhols contemporaneous Crosses, a series that the artist created in the very same year. Similar to appropriating the most recognizable symbol of Christianity, Warhol now utilized the dollar sign as the ultimate emblem of a consumer society in order to display a sort of modern-day secular religion. Emblazoned by Warhol in monumental proportions and excessive seriality, the dollar sign quickly became a potent signifier of a capitalist culture that had replaced the cross and its Christian values with the maxims of wealth accumulation and financial power.\nThe juxtaposition of money and religion (and quintessentially money as religion) points towards Warhols very own biography. Growing up as the Catholic son of Slovakian immigrants in Pittsburgh, Warhols childhood was marked by both material deprivation and religious influence. After moving to Manhattan in 1949, he soon established himself as a commercially successful illustrator and escaped financial precariousness, yet his fascination and obsession with money would remain integral throughout his life. Similarly, Warhols interest in powerful religious symbols would steer many of his artistic choices, particularly during this late phase of his career; the most prominent example being his famous The Last Supper paintings from 1986. With the dollar sign, Warhol had ultimately found an object that was deified by contemporary society yet represented the epitome of capitalism. Relating to the Mao and Marilyns, the Dollar Signs are a potent display of a cult of worship, and extoll an emblem that has become detached from its original meaning and acquired an autonomous, almost metaphysical status of its own.\nRepresenting the ultimate symbol of the late twentieth-centurys global capitalist society, the Dollar Sign stands alongside the Coca-Cola bottles, Campbells soup cans, and Brillo boxes within Warhols pantheon of iconic Pop art symbols. Created at a mature moment in his career in which the artist revisited and evaluated motifs from his earlier works, Dollar Sign is a rare, exceptional and monumentally sized example that displays the full gamut of Warhols creative and artistic potency. With its liberated playfulness, the present work is a magnificent anthology of Warhols individuated treatment of the dollar sign, and powerfully elucidates the artists enduring obsession with the graphic value and symbolic currency of money.\nSigned and dated 81 on the overlap
US
NY, US
US

medium

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

creator

Warhol, Andy

dimensions

90 by 70 in. 228.6 by 177.8 cm.

exhibition

Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Ltd., Andy Warhol, January 1991 Hempstead, New York, Hofstra Museum, Hofstra Huniversity, The Realm of the Coin: Money and Contemporary Art, October - December 1991, p. 2, illustrated in color Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Andy Warhol, August - October 1992, p. 82, no. 29, illustrated in color Vienna, Kunsthaus Wien; Orlando, Orlando Museum of Art; and Fort Lauderdale, Museum of Art, Andy Warhol, February - May 1993 and October 1993 - March 1994, n.p., no. 51, illustrated in color Athens, National Gallery, Andy Warhol, June - August 1993 Thessaloniki, National Gallery, Andy Warhol, August - September 1993 Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Andy Warhol 1928-1987, October - November 1994 Helsinki, Helsinki Kunsthalle, Andy Warhol, August - November 1997 Warsaw, The National Museum in Warsaw; and Krakow, The National Museum in Krakow, Andy Warhol, March - July 1998, p. 207, no. 154, illustrated in color Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Warhol, October - December 1999, p. 129, no. 234, illustrated in color Kochi, The Museum of Art; Bunkamura, The Bunkamura Museum of Art; Umeda-Osaka, Daimaru Museum; Hiroshima, Hiroshima City Museum of Art; Kawamura, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art; Nagoya, Nagoya City Art Museum; and Niigata, Niigata City Art Museum, Andy Warhol From Collection of Mugrabi, February 2000 - February 2001, p. 160, no. 154, illustrated in color New York, Van de Weghe, Andy Warhol Dollar Signs, September - November 2004, p. 3, illustrated in color (in installation), p. 11, illustrated in color (in installation), and p. 67, no. 20, illustrated in color

provenance

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1981) Sotheby's, New York, February 15, 1989, Lot 177 Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above) Phillips, New York, May 18, 2000, Lot 19 Private Collection, Chicago (acquired from the above) Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2004

signedDate

Signed and dated 81 on the overlap

artist_range_end

1987

artist_range_start

1928

consignmentDesignation

The Last Decade: Two Icons by Andy Warhol from a Distinguished Private Collection

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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