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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

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)\nSelf-Portrait\nsynthetic polymer, silkscreen inks and graphite on canvas\n72 x 72 in. (183 x 183 cm.)\nPainted in 1967.
US
NY, US
US

notes

Staring pensively from the picture, the colossal head of Andy Warhol is shrouded in rich, dark colors and mystery. He looks through you, the viewer, with a blankness that is empty of discernible emotion. This is the cult of personality with all personality disguised. What better way for an artist whose constructed public persona was as famous as his artistic production, to define himself for posterity. Shy and frustratingly non-communicative, Warhol had stated, "If a mirror looks into a mirror, what is there to see?" (cited in D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, p. 13).

Self-Portrait, executed in 1967, is an intriguing reflection of Warhol's own image and of his recognition of his own status in the firmament of the avant-garde. This is one of the most iconic of the Warhol Self-Portrait images, as he continued down his trailblazing path dismantling and constructing the iconographies of the modern world.

The emergence of the Self-Portraits marked a turning point for Warhol. Finally amongst the images of the rich and famous or the press images of death and disaster, he had become an element in his own visual repertoire. By 1967, Warhol had arrived, and was now one of the stars in his own right. This was even truer in 1967, a year which saw him go to the Cannes Film Festival and release the Velvet Underground's first album. He was an icon, a constant and glamorous figure on the art scene across the United States and the social scene in New York. He was the mercurial leading artist of the day, as well as an increasingly acclaimed film-maker. Self-Portrait is as much about self-presentation - and self-celebration - as anything else. Here, he gazes out of the picture with an intense driven air. His pose tells of the thinker, the intellectual. This is a man who was single-handedly turning preconceptions upside down, a revolutionary, the pioneer of Pop. Now that he was known, a recognized face, it was only fitting that he should have enshrined himself amongst his gods.

Not only does Self-Portrait capture Warhol, but it also captures the spirit of the age. The incongruous, neon colors which he has used, harness a mixture of the darkness of the Velvet Underground's music and the psychedelia of the Sixties. The presentation of the image reminds us of billboards. High culture and popular culture are being combined to create a contemporary cocktail of an image. Self-Portrait throbs with the brooding energy and life of its age.

This sense of the super-modern is increased by the whole heritage of the self-portrait as a genre. Warhol has taken this mainstay of the history of art and has resurrected it with the colors and the patterns and even the media of the modern world. By taking a photograph of himself as his subject matter, he has not only carried on the tradition, but has also attacked it, assaulting it with the sheer force of innovation. The screenprint process itself adds a twist, as Warhol has deliberately excluded himself as much as possible from the creation of his likeness. To what extent, then, is this a self-portrait? Warhol is perversely celebrating his connection to the piece while advertising his own detachment from it. Meanwhile, the mad colors, which completely avoid any attempt at realism, and the simple, almost cut-out fields in which they have been applied, work visually on an aesthetic and expressionistic level yet show his irreverence towards the painstaking oils of hallowed forebears such as Rembrandt and Cézanne. This is the ultimate Pop self-portrait, at once iconic and iconoclastic.

Throughout the history of art, the main role that the self-portrait has played is not the celebration of the artist, but a testimony to the artist's achievements. Whenever a self-portrait is created, no one can help but ask which will last longer, the artist or the artwork? Warhol confronted this by saying, 'Since I believe in work, I shouldn't think about disappearing when I die' (Warhol, quoted in K. Honnef, Andy Warhol 1928-1987 Commerce into Art, Cologne, 2000, p. 50). However much an artist believes in the durability of their work, or of the lasting nature of their influence, the reality of death is more apparent in a self-portrait, literally staring them in the face. This makes the dark colors of Self-Portrait and Warhol's pensive look all the more appropriate. It is not so much his fame, or his arrival, that the artist appears to be contemplating, but instead death.

But just as his works are both continuations of and assaults on the artistic tradition, so the paradoxes reach deeper levels. For in almost all of his self-portraits, Warhol appeared in a variety of guises and disguises. Here, even his appearance as an intellectual appears almost theatrical. This is a self-conscious pose, echoing Rodin's Le Penseur. Warhol is deliberately casting himself in a new light, presenting himself as some manner of artistic svengali. The shades and shadows around him add a sense of mystique and mystery. He is not only editing how he is perceived, but is deliberately playing with his image. There is a strange tension between Warhol presenting himself as the thinker, as the lynchpin of the avant garde, and at the same time self-consciously striking a pose. This pantomime level shows an

artist unwilling to take even his own position too seriously.

Rather than present us with the 'true' Andy Warhol, he has instead

edited, omitted, posed and colored his image in search of something

that he has controlled - his 'good picture'. Ironically it is through

this playfulness that we begin to detect the true likeness of the

artist himself.

The present work is one of only six paintings in this large format,

which Warhol showed in the United States Pavilion at the Montreal Expo in 1967. Other versions of Self-Portrait are today in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Institute of Arts, Detroit; Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Munich; and the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1964, private collection

c 2004 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1964, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

c 2004 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

Andy Warhol, The Shadow, 1981

c 2004 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

Andy Warhol, Self-portrait, passport photos

c 2004 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

Warhol aims his movie camera at Marcel Duchamp, with Sam Green at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery, February 1966 Photograph by Stephen Shore

Photograph of Warhol's Self-Portrait c 2004 Billy Name

title

Self-Portrait

medium

Synthetic polymer, silkscreen inks and graphite on canvas

creator

Andy Warhol

exhibited

United States Pavilion, Expo 67, Montreal.

Pasadena Art Museum and Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol, May-September 1970.

New York, Museum of Modern Art; London, Hayward Gallery, and Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Andy Warhol: a retrospective, February 1989-September 1990, p. 85 (illustrated in color).

dimensions

72 x 72 in. (183 x 183 cm.)

literature

R. Crone, Andy Warhol: das zeichnerische Werk, 1942-1975, Stuttgart, 1976, no. 400.

provenance

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York

Milton Fischman, St. Louis

Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis


*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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