Search for over 80 million sold items in our price database

Four Multicoloured Marilyns (Reversals Series)
Sold

About the item

Four Multicoloured Marilyns combines expressive painterly mark-making, with overtly Warholian silkscreen ink, and the most famous visage of the Twentieth Century to create a superlative work; a stand-out example of Warhol’s deeply reflective yet conceptually progressive Reversals series. Following the burgeoning contemporaneous trend of appropriation, Warhol began to call upon his own oeuvre in the late 1970s, quoting from the pantheon of icons he had already established. The present work shows the artist further imbuing Marilyn’s image with themes of glamour, beauty, and death in a manner that identifies it with the highest echelons of his praxis. At the close of a decade marred by his close encounter with death (having been shot in his studio by feminist activist Valerie Solanis in 1968), Warhol embarked on a long period of reflection and withdrawal in the 1970s. Aside from the auspicious and challenging corpus of portraits depicting China’s communist leader Mao Zedong, these years were principally devoted to portrait commissions, and were somewhat lacking in the subversive wit and conceptual vigour that characterised his ground-breaking 1960s production. The arrival of the Reversals and Retrospectives heralded the reprise of Warhol’s critically acerbic genius. Though the re-iteration and repetition of iconic personalities and consumer products had long been the very cornerstone of Warhol’s practice, this new retroactive body of work kindled a climactic transfiguration of the artist’s formative concerns and mythology. As explained by Roberto Marrone, “All the images Warhol used in the Retrospectives and Reversals ranked among his most memorable and commercial icons… These were the images that made him famous – the icons, symbols and brands through which he had made his own name and which had therefore to some extent become associated with his own life, history, career and myth. In repeating these same images in a new ‘reversed’ and negative form in 1979, Warhol now bestowed upon them a new and altogether darker and more sombre mood reflective of the respective distance in time between their original use and the later moment of their re-creation” (Roberto Marrone in: Exhibition Catalogue, Zurich, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Andy Warhol: Big Retrospective Painting, 2009, p. 32).\nIn Marilyn Monroe, whom he painted shortly after her premature death in 1962 at the height of her celebrity, Warhol found a memento mori which could unite the obsessions driving his career: glamour, beauty, and death. As a star of the silver screen and the definitive international sex symbol of her era, Marilyn epitomised the fame and glamour of celebrity that Warhol craved. The vibrant background of Four Multicoloured Marilyns recalls the shocking palette of Warhol’s earlier Marilyns, in which he had deliberately chosen lurid, conflicting hues, to transcend the humanity of the recently deceased star. Through negative printing, however, Warhol achieves a ghostly dematerialisation of his subject, with the shadowy faces now reduced to their recognition value, their memory value alone. Although still recognisable and legible thanks to Marilyn’s iconicity, Warhol’s manipulations neutralise the power of the original image to convey meaning so that in Four Multicoloured Marilyns the emphasis is less on the celebrity of the sitter and more of that on the artist himself; less a depiction of the film star and more a reflection of Warhol’s own artistic past.\nWarhol started Four Multicoloured Marilyns by broadly brushing skeins of paint onto a length of canvas to create a varied and gestural ground. The effect appears quite different to the insistently flat surfaces of his 1960s canvases, and almost Abstract Expressionist in its splashy feel – an ironic painterly appropriation first initiated with the celebrated Chairman Mao series. However, this lush surface, in which the physical presence of the artist is palpable, is drained of meaning by the superimposition of deep black silkscreen ink. Rather than using his bold manipulation of colour to accentuate lip-hue and exaggerate hair colour, Warhol delineates the four faces in brutally harsh negative, thus presenting a sardonic indictment of the expressive potential of the brushstroke as well as an implicit endorsement of his own flat technique.\nThe present work stands at the pinnacle of Warhol’s appropriative practice. Where in the coming years he would lift imagery directly from artists as varied and eclectic as Cranach, Ucello, Munch, and de Chirico, in this instance he calls upon his own repertoire. Four Multicoloured Marilyns is not only typical of the artist in its subversion, but also in its pervasive mood of self-aggrandisement. Through probing the prevalent contemporaneous dialogue of authorship and authenticity, and implicitly endorsing his own artistic code, Warhol creates a composition charged with visual impact, and replete with conceptual force.\nSigned and dated 79/86 on the overlap
GB
GB
GB

medium

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

creator

Andy Warhol

condition

Colour: The colour in the printed catalogue is fairly accurate, although the green is more vibrant and the pink is warmer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals a small and unobtrusive scuff to the forehead of the bottom left face. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra violet light. "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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

92 by 70.5cm.; 36 1/4 by 27 3/4 in.

literature

Milan, Triennale, The Andy Warhol Show, 2004-05, p. 86, no. 9, illustrated in colour 

provenance

Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich Zaira Mis Collection, Brussels (acquired from the above in 1989) Sale: Sotheby’s, Paris, Collection Mis, Art Moderne et Contemporain, 24 October 2012, Lot 23 Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

signedDate

Signed and dated 79/86 on the overlap

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.


Advert
Advert

Sold items

Four Marlons
Sold

Four Marlons

Realized Price
69,605,000 USD

White Marilyn
Sold

White Marilyn

Realized Price
41,045,000 USD

Four Marilyns, 1962 – Andy Warhol
Sold

Four Marilyns, 1962 – Andy Warhol

Realized Price
38,245,000 USD

Abstraktes Bild
Sold

Abstraktes Bild

Realized Price
33,604,500 USD

Lemon Marilyn
Sold

Lemon Marilyn

Realized Price
28,040,000 USD

Les Glaçons, Bennecourt
Sold

Les Glaçons, Bennecourt

Realized Price
23,372,500 USD

Les Arceaux de roses, Giverny
Sold

Les Arceaux de roses, Giverny

Realized Price
19,421,000 USD

Orange Marilyn
Sold

Orange Marilyn

Realized Price
16,256,000 USD

Spider IV
Sold

Spider IV

Realized Price
14,679,200 USD

Piscine de Medianoche (Paper Pool 30)
Sold

Piscine de Medianoche (Paper Pool 30)

Realized Price
11,743,800 USD