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Self-Portrait
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Self-Portrait
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Self-Portrait

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About the item

Self-Portrait of 1966-67 is the truly superb archetype of Andy Warhol’s most famous self-representation of the 1960s. As stated in the 2004 catalogue raisonné, “Warhol’s 1966 Self-Portrait is probably the most well-known of the three versions he produced during the 1960s and, with his Self-Portrait of 1986, one of the most representative and iconic images of the artist.” (Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, Vol. 02B, New York, 2004, p. 227) With this legendary series of self-depiction, Warhol intently pursued the pure effects of color: the various layers comprising the instantly familiar schematic of his features becoming the vehicle to deliver startling chromatic effects. The present work is an outstanding paradigm of the corpus, incorporating five regions of sensational acrylic color: a field of Dioxazine purple is dominated by a flood of brilliant scarlet red, which overlies areas of pure cyan, deep turquoise and golden ochre. These sharply demarcated zones of color were meticulously organized by Warhol’s application of paint through acetate stencils, with the final silkscreen applying the red that defines the form. Appropriating as his source a highly-staged photograph that originally measured ten by eight inches but, crucially, was cropped to the square format, Warhol undermines the overtly dramatic chiaroscuro caught in the camera lens by playing with chromatic scale. While both the respective pairings of red and purple and turquoise and cyan hues possess a very similar tonal value, the red and the cyan are the most chromatically intense. An extraordinary effect is broadcast as, despite only moderate light and dark tonal contrast, the extreme color polarities lead our eye to interpret a dramatic sense of form in this painting. The purely aesthetic brilliance of the present work is augmented by the exceptional nature of its provenance, having been in the collection of Warhol’s lover of twelve years and collaborator Jed Johnson until his untimely death in 1996. Johnson, who met Warhol when he took a job sweeping floors at the Factory in 1968, subsequently directed some of the artist’s films such as Andy Warhol’s Bad before deciding to start a career as an interior designer based on his experience locating, renovating and decorating the townhouse on East 66th Street that became Andy's and Jed's home. For more than twenty years of his prodigious mature career, from his earliest series of Self-Portraits in 1963 to the final haunting examples of 1986, Andy Warhol determinedly and serially chronicled his own visage, creating a corpus of work that charts the course of his own legendary status. The emergence of the Self-Portraits signaled a turning point for Warhol: now, among the images of the rich and famous, he became an icon in his own visual repertoire. In 1963, the collector Florence Barron commissioned the artist’s first mature Self-Portrait, which was modeled on the portraits of Ethel Scull that he had created only months earlier. Using a series of photo booth images as his source, his countenance is masked by dark sunglasses and the graininess of the then-new screen-printing process. Warhol appears in these early canvases in a sequence of diverse poses, a compositional tactic that allowed him to explore the possibilities of variation within serial repetition. Like his spectacular multi-canvas Jackie paintings, these works possess a strong sense of temporality, resembling film strips that chronicle the passage of time. In his second series of Self-Portraits, from 1964, Warhol still used a photo booth image as his source, but chose only one exposure, effectively abandoning any reference to temporality. This single exposure was screened onto the surface of each of the ten canvases in the series in precisely the same way, with the only differentiation being the background color, which was applied locally by hand in the same manner as Warhol’s seminal paintings of late 1962 and early 1963, such as Troy, Marilyn, and Liz. It is this 1964 group that presages the single exposure portraits and progressively experimental approach to color that Warhol would ultimately arrive at in works such as Self-Portrait.\nBy 1966, the year of his third and greatest series of self-images, Warhol’s constructed public persona was almost as famous as his artistic production. Propelled into the public limelight, the world now bestowed on him the same degree of celebrity status that he found so intriguing and captivating in those that he chose to depict. For these Self-Portraits, Warhol abandoned the photo booth source images which, with their rapidly timed exposures, encouraged the kind of spontaneous mugging poses seen in his earliest series. Instead, he used a print photograph of himself in a pose that appears carefully calculated and fine-tuned, perfectly capturing Robert Rosenblum’s declaration that, "From the beginning, Warhol offered a contradictory balance between up-close intimacy and calculated artifice."  (Robert Rosenblum, Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits, St. Gallen, 2004, p. 21) Warhol’s direct gaze pierces through this striking image. The simple black turtleneck that he wears places strong visual emphasis on his face and his left hand, which is purposefully positioned so that his middle and index fingers create a V-shape at his mouth. The masking function of the sunglasses in his 1963 Self-Portrait is here replaced by the dark shadow that obscures nearly the entirety of the proper right side of his face, shrouding him in an aura of mystery and preventing us from any complete reading of his visage. This shadow, when reproduced on a halftone screen as in the present work, reads as an essentially opaque field, and the perfect compositional contrast to the highlights that appear in the hair on the opposite side of his head. Warhol’s abounding interest in engaging a wide spectrum of colors in his 1960s silkscreened paintings reaches a spectacular apex in these works, and Self-Portrait is exemplary of the innovations that he exacted in this most influential of his Self-Portrait series: here, the dazzling vibrancy of the red, turquoise, cyan and purple tones transforms the purpose of color from supporting the image to becoming, if only at first glance, the compositional star and visual exclamation point of the painting. In his seminal 1966 portraits, at once iconic and iconoclastic, Warhol succeeds in capturing on canvas the most alluring and elusive star in his firmament of celebrity: himself.\nMore than any artist before him, Warhol’s image, identity and constructed public persona were inextricably bound to his art, making the Self-Portraits among the richest and most fertile sites for his artistic invention. Witnessing the conjunction of Warhol’s celebrity subject matter and his personal fame, they result in an ironic layering of subject and author. Renowned for his candid depictions of stage and screen luminaries, Warhol capitalized on the mechanics of an increasingly consumer-driven society when he packaged and commodified Marilyn, Elvis and Liz as marketable icons. Openly acknowledging the artifice and deception inherent in any form of representation, Warhol, in his 1960s Self-Portraits, presented himself as a constructed fiction, a series of personas as affected and contrived as his own public image. In doing so, his 1967 statement, grossly disingenuous at the time, finally came true: “If you want to know about Andy Warhol, then just look at the surface of my pictures, my movies and me and there I am; there’s nothing in between.” (the artist cited in Gretchen Berg, ‘Andy: My True Story,’ in Los Angeles Free Press, March 17, 1967, p. 3)\nSigned on the overlap
US
NY, US
US

medium

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

creator

Andy Warhol

condition

This painting is in excellent condition. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at +1 (212) 606-7254 for a condition report prepared by Terrence Mahon. The canvas is framed under Plexiglas in a wood strip frame, floating in a larger wood frame with 2 inch float, all painted white. 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

22 x 22 in. 55.9 x 55.9 cm.

literature

Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, Vol. 02B, New York, 2004, cat. no. 1910, p. 244, illustrated in color and p. 256 (text)

provenance

Jed Johnson, New York (acquired from the artist in 1971) Jay Johnson and Tom Cashin, New York (acquired from the above in 1996) Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich (acquired from the above in 2010) Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2010

signedDate

Signed 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.


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