Andy Warhol - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York; Private Collection; Sale: Sotheby’s, New York, Contemporary Art (Part II), November 18, 1999, lot 319; Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Monaco, Fondation Grimaldi, SuperWarhol, July 16 – August 31, 2003, no. 195 (illustrated in color)

  • Literature

    G. Celant, SuperWarhol, Milan, 2003, p. 417, no. 195 (illustrated in color)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Andy Warhol was famously quoted saying, “Once you’ve ‘got’ Pop, you could never see a sign again the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again.” As one of the central figures in American Pop Art, Warhol’s background in commercial illustration and his controversial personality type catapulted him to the status one of the most recognized artists of all time. A trendsetter and seer in many fields, Warhol was fueled by and gave back to the bustling value system of American-style commerce. He used it to his advantage to feed the hungry public what they were already starving for — consumerism and celebrity, perfectly packaged. The symbols of the booming economy of early 1960s America were the ultimate playground for the Pop artists’ imagination. Warhol was skin deep
    so to speak, if not, screen deep at best. Inspiration was readily available for purchase on shop shelves, the silver screen, and in the pages of the tabloids. Everyone wanted a piece of the labels, the fame, the brands; everyone wanted a piece of America in its most vapid state. Warhol still satisfies this desire.

    Warhol changed the face of art in his time, and the once multi-leveled, velvet roped art world was opened. Warhol created a new and single-echeloned world, inviting anyone who wanted to be included. By using commercial subjects as inspiration for reproductions of contextual icons from American society, Warhol encouraged people from all walks of life to experience both art, and the vigorous world of American consumerism as seen through his lens.

    Drawing on this shared cultural experience and notions of nostalgia, Warhol has trained his focus on icons of American folk culture. The Myths series is one of the most exceptional series taken on by Warhol and is the only series where he utilizes fictional characters derived from mass media for his subject matter. Prescribed to them by the American culture of media; this series mirrors the function that Myth played in classical
    world. Instead of gods or goddess stories repeated over millennia, Warhol had repetitively imagined characters recognizable to young and old alike.

    Featuring personas from literature, film, and history, Warhol juxtaposes several archetypes; his lineup includes a ‘movie star’, Howdy Doody, Aunt Jemima, Superman, Dracula, Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, Mickey Mouse, the Wicked Witch of the West, and ultimately himself. These figures come together with a faceted effect, exemplifying good versus evil, celebrity-hood, American emblems, the clear in contrast to the ambiguous. Lastly is Andy himself transformed into a mythical creature of late 20th century America, a demigod controlling the kaleidoscope of cultural imagery. He shamelessly exploits the control Pop Culture has on the American public and uses it as
    a driving force to bring out the most basic of characters in a larger than life way, helping them evolve into more superior versions of themselves, but in the context of their own timeless categories.

    The ever mythical witch that has evolved through time in American culture took root during the 17th Century in colonial New England, but extended well into the European medieval period. The Salem Witch trials and the Witch Hunts that subsequently spread like wildfire throughout America during that time lent themselves to the beginnings of the rumors that eventually progressed into what we now use to depict this invented character of the Witch. Over the intervening centuries, the witch has become larger than life through tall tales, storybooks, animation, and the silver screen. Historically witches were not green with warts, jagged teeth, and hook noses, or with scraggily black robes and rickety broom sticks to ride across the sky. This imagery of the witch emerged as the product of illustrations in story books and portrayals in film, eventually becoming the universal trademark for violent black magic, and a mystical feminine rage born through centuries of persecution and isolation.

    Thus the Wicked Witch of the West is brought to light in the enduring classic, The Wizard of Oz, shared with children throughout generations. It was clearly the inspiration that loaned itself to the creation of Andy Warhol’s Witch. This particular work is one of the most timeless and chilling of the Myths series. Margaret Hamilton was immortalized through her role as in the 1939 classic. Reprising the role, Warhol has further intensified the lurid make-up originally captured in Technicolor. Warhol depicts her with the devious expression she was famous for, glamorized by ruby lips and dark
    eye makeup. Arresting against the violet background, Margaret seethes with
    the darkness of the Wicked Witch of the West herself. With her head thrown back and her mouth cast open, we see another famous art historical (and cultural) icon — the anguished character in Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

    Greener than an emerald under a spotlight, and fiercer than most modern day villains, Warhol’s depiction of the Witch is flawless in capturing the essence of the character. Even with all her evil and vengefulness, the viewer is mesmerized by her features. Her screeching voice calling out, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” head thrown back, pointed hat askew, with curved brows, and jagged teeth in full view, Warhol truly brings to life one of the most iconic villains of the 20th century.

  • Artist Biography

    Andy Warhol

    American • 1928 - 1987

    Known as the “King of Pop,” Andy Warhol was the leading face of the Pop Art movement in the United States 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 like Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities like 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 a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas.
60 1/8 x 60 1/8 in. (152.7 x 152.7 cm.)
Signed and dated twice “Andy Warhol 1981” and “Warhol 1981” on the overlap.

$1,800,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for $2,658,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York