Andy Warhol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | Phillips

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  • "These paintings hover as the shadow of life’s edge. These paintings are Andy Warhol’s touch, his distance…They are a brilliant emphatic view of everything and nothing."
    —Julian Schnabel, 1989 

    Arthur Tress, Andy Warhol, 1979. Image: © Arthur Tress, © Courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York, Artwork © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    One of a small number of its kind in private hands, Andy Warhol’s Shadow (Double) is from the artist’s monumental series of Shadow paintings executed between 1978 and 1979. Philippa de Menil and Heiner Friedrich acquired 102 Shadow paintings from Warhol in January 1979 for the Lone Star Foundation, now the Dia Art Foundation, and exhibited the works to great critical acclaim that year. Presenting a striking interplay between light and dark, the shadowy forms represent one of Warhol’s most curious and unexpected bodies of work, which encapsulated his investigations with abstraction. A striking departure from Warhol’s figurations of celebrity and commodity cultures, Shadow (Double) combines photography and painterly gesture in his signature medium of silkscreen. The present work is one of few known iterations in which Warhol applied his investigations in repetition and seriality to create two unique shadow compositions on a single canvas. 


    Warhol priming Shadow paintings, 1979. Image and Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Materializing the Spectral

    "[Warhol’s] amped-up small shadows, which otherwise convey a kind of ubiquitous nothingness, become tangible, palpable, richly alluring structures."
    —Gregory Volk

    The Shadow paintings mark the culmination of the artist’s venture into nonfigurative abstraction, which began in the late 1970s with his Oxidation, Rorschach, and Camouflage paintings. Warhol’s growing interest in abstraction played in tandem with his simultaneous attention to shadows. Having explored cast shadows in his Skulls and Hammer and Sickle series in 1976, Warhol turned to a full-blown concentration of shadows as stand-alone subject matter, giving an immaterial phenomenon a material presence in the Shadow paintings. Warhol’s Shadows imply a memento mori, a persistent theme from the outset of his career—from the Death and Disaster series to the inception of his Marilyns after her untimely passing, as well as the exhibition of his Flowers with his Jackie portraits that included imagery taken from John F. Kennedy’s funeral.


    Warhol’s photographs of shadows, ca. 1978. Image and Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Eerily echoing Plato’s cave where shadows denote our perception of reality rather than reality itself, Warhol’s Shadow paintings present the cerebral sensibility that pervades his entire oeuvre: the question of representation versus reality. Prefiguring Warhol’s Reversals that reconceived his classic Pop imagery in negative form, the Shadows display a series of visual and conceptual reversals that turn the very nature of a shadow on its head: shadows are not the background but the foreground, not the negative but the positive, not the dark but the light. This equivocal relationship is further amplified in the enigmatic presentation of the artist’s shadows in obscuring their source. Although the source imagery of the Shadow series has been long debated, Warhol’s assistant Ronnie Cutrone offered the most empirical account that the shadows were cast by pieces of cardboard and matte boards photographed under raking light. Heightening the illusion of reality, the absent origin of the Shadows is what lends themselves to their enticement, as “ambiguity and mystery are central to their very power.”i


    A Painterly Seriality


    [left] Ellsworth Kelly, Shadows on Stairs, Villa La Combe, Meschers, 1950, Artwork: © Ellsworth Kelly. [right] Eugéne Atget, Arbre (Garche) Hêtre, 1910-1915, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Image: © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

    Warhol’s interest in the cast shadows captured in photography finds parallels in the history of the medium, from the proto-Surrealist images of Eugène Atget to the source images of Ellsworth Kelly’s La Combe series from the early 1950s—not to mention his own half-shadowed portraits of the 1960s. Yet, its painterly transfer stands apart from the flatness of Kelly’s painted surface and of Warhol’s own silkscreens of the previous decade. With his return to painting with his Maos in 1972, Warhol began applying larger quantities of paint onto his canvases, resulting in impasto swaths that sloshed across the surface during the silkscreen process. As Joseph D. Ketner expressed, “The thick impasto of the surfaces give these works the imprimatur of ‘high art,’ and the dark shadows lend them the brooding melancholy of profound meaning, providing a stark contrast to the bright colors that project through the shadows.”ii At the same time, they recall the bravura of the Abstract Expressionism that defined the New York art scene when Warhol was still searching for the visual lexicon that would usher in Pop Art. His Shadows,” Gregory Volk observes, “at once revisit, critique, poke fun at, and take in surprising new directions the works of some of the major abstract painters from the 1940s and 1950s, such as Franz Kline, Clyfford Still, and Ad Reinhardt.”iii


    Franz Kline, Merce C, 1961. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, Image: © Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Engaging Warhol’s oeuvre beyond its own medium, the Shadow silkscreens appear to bridge the end of the artist’s practice in film, as “[the] grainy magnification of the motifs to vast scale evokes the aura and hyper-realization integral to cinematic closeup.”iv This especially resonates with the present work, which inextricably links itself to the very photographic source from which it derives in eliciting a piece of roll film or sliced photo-strip negatives. In this respect, the work situates itself in limbo between Warhol’s paintings from the 1960s that mirrored 16mm filmstrips and those from the 1980s that referenced stacks of television screens. The side-by-side stacked repetition at once reminds us through a reflexive force of a repetition of an original and the artist’s inherently original approach to the concept of seriality. In its curious composition and enigmatic evocations, Shadow (Double) encapsulates Warhol’s distinctive flavor of abstraction through its photographic, printed, painterly, and shadowy creation.


    Yuz Museum, Shanghai, October 29, 2016 – January 15, 2017

    i Keith Hartley, “Andy Warhol: Abstraction,” in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum, 2009, p. 65.
    ii Joseph D. Ketner II, “Warhol’s Last Decade: Reinventing Painting,” in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum, 2009, pp. 20-21.
    iii Gregory Volk, “The Late, Great Andy Warhol,” in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum, 2009, p. 81. 
    iv Lynne Cooke, “Andy Warhol Shadows,” exh. brochure, Dia Center for the Arts, 1998, n.p.

    • Provenance

      Gagosian Gallery, New York
      Peder Bonnier, New York
      Galierie Volker Diehl, Berlin
      Onnasch Collection, Berlin (acquired from the above in 1992)
      Christie's, London, June 23, 2005, lot 12 (illustrated in vertical orientation)
      Private Collection, Italy (acquired at the above sale)
      Christie's, New York, November 9, 2011, lot 637 (illustrated in vertical orientation)
      Skarstedt Gallery, New York
      Private Collection
      Christie’s, New York, May 11, 2016, lot 179
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Shadow Paintings, November 3 – December 2, 1989, p. 20 (illustrated in vertical orientation, p. 21)
      Bremen, Neues Museum Weserburg, Bestände Onnasch, 1992, p. 295 (illustrated in vertical orientation, p. 75)
      Hamburger Kunsthalle, August 1996 - October 1999 (on extended loan)
      Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Porto, Museu de Arte Contemporänea de Serralves, The Onnasch Collection: Aspects of Contemporary Art, November 7, 2001 - June 23, 2002, p. 201 (illustrated in vertical orientation, p. 117)
      Dusseldorf, Museum Kunst Palast; Vaduz, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein; Stockholm; Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, Andy Warhol: The Late Work, February 14, 2004 - May 8, 2005, pp. 35, 153 (illustrated in vertical orientation, p. 34)

    • Literature

      Andy Warhol: Paintings from the 1970s, exh. cat., Skarstedt Gallery, New York, 2011, pl. 18, n.p. (illustrated in vertical orientation)

    • Artist Biography

      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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Property of an Important Private Collector


Shadow (Double)

synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas
49 7/8 x 78 in. (126.7 x 198.1 cm)
Executed in 1978.

Full Cataloguing

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $877,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Auctions
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 23 June 2021