Andy Warhol - Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, May 14, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “By bringing together into a single image a brand of cookies and one of the most distinctive emblems of American civilization, Warhol simultaneously presents two thematic veins that persist throughout his entire production.”
    —Jose Maria Faerna
    Painted in the last year of Andy Warhol’s life, Statue of Liberty, 1986, serves as the artist’s clever meditation of one of the most recognizable symbols in the United States. The work belongs to a discrete body of paintings Warhol executed which portrays a close-up view of Lady Liberty's resolute countenance and sharp-edged crown. The present example is notable for its pale green palette evoking the statue’s copper oxidation, a faithful rendition of this civic allegorical figure. As the decade progressed, Warhol’s imagery began to include ambiguous political and religious motifs, which have been interpreted as both earnest and critical. Depicting an iconic American emblem of opportunity and unity, this significant body of paintings have been read as a reflection of the prevailing concerns of this era, such as the burgeoning AIDS crisis and tensions of the Cold War. These nuanced responses have led this image to be celebrated as a prime exemplar of Warhol’s late career, represented by the holding of similar works from the series in major institutional collections, such as The Broad, Los Angeles.


    Robert Rauschenberg, Estate, 1963. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Artwork: © 2024 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

    The Statue of Liberty featured prominently in media coverage in 1986, making it an ideal subject for Warhol—always an astute observer of contemporary culture. That year marked the centenary of its unveiling in New York in 1886, after the monumental statute designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, was presented as a gift as a symbolic celebration of American democracy. A century later, during the Fourth of July weekend in 1986, the United States marked this centennial anniversary with a dramatic reveal of the newly restored statue, following an expensive and ambitious two-year restoration. Amidst the media frenzy that preceded this highly-televised event, the icon of American culture saturated the publications and images of everyday life—extensively covered not only in newspapers and magazines, but also on commemorative trinkets such as keychains and coins. Warhol, intrigued by this overwhelming media exposure, culled the image of the Statue of Liberty depicted in the present work from a celebratory cookie tin lid. Even the original logo of the container is kept intact in the lower left corner of Statue of Liberty, featuring both the French and American flags and the inscription “Les bons biscuits Fabis.” Akin to his treatment of Coca-Cola and Campbell's Soup, the present work represents the banal objects that characterize post-war consumerism, but it also takes this branding one step further to reflect how an American symbol of democracy and opportunity had become an icon of popular culture itself.


    Andy Warhol, Statue of Liberty, 1962. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Artwork: © 2024 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

    In the last decade of his career, Warhol turned to his own corpus for source material. Beginning with his Retrospectives series in 1979, he returned to the very images that had solidified his position within modern art history; “like the aging Giorgio de Chirico,” Warhol’s close associate and confidant Bob Colacello reminisced, “he plundered his own past, cynically dragging out his old silkscreens from the sixties…” Warhol's first depictions of the Statue of Liberty trace back to 1962, when he executed two paintings of the structure based on a postcard image of the New York harbor. The artist returned to the subject nearly twenty-five years later, during a period in his practice that was characterized by both introspective reflection and abundant creativity. He captured the Statue of Liberty under scaffolding for the cover of his 1985 photobook, America, before employing it in the present series of paintings and portraying it in a variety of hues. Towards the end of Warhol’s life, as his position was solidified as one of the most influential post-war artists, not even his own practice remained safe from his unceasing appropriation.


    Cookie Tin produced by the French cookie company, “Les Bons Biscuits Fabis.”

    In Statue of Liberty, Warhol applied his fundamental principle of reproduction to an image that had already been subject to persistent reproduction itself—on the front pages of newspapers, television, biscuit tins, and even in his own previous works. The ironically gestural, schematic approach manifest in the present work, intended to produce the appearance of brushstrokes, extends his characteristically deadpan wit. As one of the most famous structures in the world, the Statue of Liberty offered Warhol the opportunity for both self-reflection and societal reflection: probing the depths of American identity, freedom, and postmodern replication, it encapsulated the core themes that wove together Warhol’s oeuvre. “By bringing together into a single image a brand of cookies and one of the most distinctive emblems of American civilization,” Jose Maria Faerna illuminated, “Warhol simultaneously presents two thematic veins that persist throughout his entire production.”


    i Bob Colacello, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, New York, 1990, p. 429.

    ii Jose Maria Faerna,  Warhol Cameo, New York, 1997, p. 5.

    • Provenance

      The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York
      Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris (acquired from the above)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1999

    • 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 from an Important Private European Collection


Statue of Liberty

stamped twice by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. and the Estate of Andy Warhol and numbered and inscribed twice “PA 64.015 VF” on the overlap
synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
50 x 54 1/2 in. (127 x 138.4 cm)
Executed in 1986.

Full Cataloguing

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,143,000

Contact Specialist

Carolyn Kolberg
Associate Specialist, Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1206

Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 14 May 2024