Roy Lichtenstein

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  • Provenance

    John C. Stoller & Co., Minneapolis
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Seattle Art Museum; Denver Art Museum, Andy Warhol: Portraits, November 19, 1976 - March 27, 1977
    West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery & School of Art, summer 1998 (on extended loan)

  • Literature

    Neil Printz and Sally King-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture, late 1974-1976, vol. 4, London, 2014, no. 3306, p. 451 (illustrated, p. 445)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The essence and impact of Pop Art need only be defined by two names: Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Roy Lichtenstein is one of only four portraits in the 40-inch square format that Warhol made of the fellow artist, completed in exchange for artworks by Lichtenstein. Similar to the trades Warhol made with other renowned painters such as David Hockney, the present portrait is testament to a bond of friendship and a sign of deep mutual respect. As an expression of Warhol’s enduring tendency to paint the most important artists of his time, another example from this important set of four portraits resides in the founding collection of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Enlivened with luscious pastel tones and seemingly enhanced with subtle flashes of eye shadow and lipstick, Warhol’s silkscreen presentation of Lichtenstein is afforded the movie star treatment that underpinned his iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe from the preceding decade.

    In the present work from 1976, the monochromatic backgrounds of these earlier portraits are enlivened with a vibrancy that speaks of the personal relationship between the two artists and the personal encounter that gave birth to the image. The project originated from a friendly agreement, in which Warhol would gift portraits of Roy and his wife Dorothy. In February 1975, Warhol took 22 Polaroids of Lichtenstein at his Southampton studio and subsequently cropped his favorite image to focus on the artist’s pensive and alert expression. Perfectly articulated through the pristine clarity of Warhol’s silkscreen technique, the present work masterfully conveys Lichtenstein’s intellectual prowess and charisma.

    In the opening years of the 1960s Andy Warhol famously married the objective realism of photography and the historic power of the genre of portraiture to create a new cast of modern icons in the newfound Pop Art aesthetic. In his idiosyncratic silkscreen technique, he handled consumer objects and celebrities with equal detachment. It was in 1967, during a period in which he otherwise drastically reduced his painterly output, that Warhol made his first major portrait series depicting artists. At the time, both Warhol and Lichtenstein worked under the auspices of New York’s most influential gallerist, Leo Castelli. Ever aware of the gravity of his immediate context, Warhol initiated a series of portraits of artists represented by Castelli, including Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Donald Judd. Painted in an intimate scale, the three portraits he made of Lichtenstein at this time form an important precursor to the present work. In the 1967 portraits, Warhol used a second-hand photograph supplied to him by Castelli, with a closely cropped format reminiscent of the photobooth paintings he had experimented with earlier in the decade.

    By 1976 when Warhol came to make the silkscreen paintings, the artist had firmly established the parameters of his new portrait practice. Using his beloved grey plastic Polaroid camera, the “Big Shot”, Warhol arranged ad-hoc photoshoots with his notoriously glamorous circle of friends, artists, celebrities and socialites. Transferring the images to silkscreen in a revival of his idiosyncratic methodology, the artist steadily built a social portrait of his vibrant cultural milieu through individual canvases in the 40-inch square format, a meta-museum that reimagined the pantheon of rock stars and actresses from Old Hollywood that dominated his early work.

    The subtle play between the simplified color forms and the detailed silkscreen foreshadows his Beauties series of the 1980s, where the likes of Debbie Harry and Grace Jones would replace Monroe and Liz Taylor. As Henry Geldzahler would note, under Warhol’s eye, none were impervious to that “lusty yet ethereal limbo where everyone was a star, not only for fifteen minutes, but, in this incarnation caught permanently on canvas, ‘forever'” (Henry Geldzahler, Andy Warhol: Portraits of the Seventies and Eighties, exh. cat., Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, 1993, p. 26).

  • Artist Bio

    Andy Warhol

    American • 1928 - 1987

    Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

    Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

     

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Ο8

Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection

Roy Lichtenstein

signed and dated "Andy Warhol 76" on the overlap
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Executed in 1976.

Estimate
$300,000 - 400,000 

sold for $475,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue