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  • Provenance

    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc., New York
    DJT Fine Arts, Palm Beach
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    To think different is the first step in achieving the status of an American genius. This drive to break with tradition, to transcend common practice, has always been the hallmark of American ingenuity and greatness in realms as disparate as technology and visual art. Yet, toward the end of the Twentieth Century, technology began to take its aesthetics more seriously, just as the radical Pop Artists began to employ technology to their benefit. In doing so, these two liberal sciences entered into a codependence that grows stronger to this very day. And as Andy Warhol chose his subjects with an eye discerning in its sensitivity to power, influence, and beauty, so Steve Jobs crafted the image of his burgeoning technological revolution with a keen sense of its public appeal. In Warhol’s Apple (From Ads set A), 1985, Warhol pays homage to the growing iconicity of Apple, Inc. by inviting its logo to enter his pantheon of silkscreen idols.

    Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple chose as its first logo a hand-drawn sketch of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, unaware of the epiphany-inducing fruit dangling mere feet above his head. This dichromatic picture was heavy on detail, yet it lacked the simplicity necessary for an image to become widely replicable and iconic. At Jobs’ direction, Apple replaced the logo the same year, opting insteadfor a design by graphic artist Rob Janoff: an upright apple with a chunk bitten out by its hungry owner. Though presented to him in black-and-white, Jobs chose a populist route, encouraging Janoff to colorize the logo for greater public appeal. Thus, the rainbow apple was born, and it persisted as Apple’s extraordinary public image until 1998, when Apple’s new revolution of design simplicity brought forth the monochrome design that graces Apple’s products to this day.

    As Apple was refining its visual brand, Andy Warhol was expanding his; Warhol’s work in the late 1970s drew upon new subject matter and methods of production, including his oxidation paintings, his first work with camouflage, and the nightmarish integration of weaponry, guns, and knives into his work. Yet as the 1970s turned into the 1980s, he maintained his affinity for the subject matter of modern iconography. “Warhol was marvelously intuitive in this kind of project by drawing his images from the vernacular, by using ready-made images.” (A. Danto, “Warhol and the Politics of Prints”, Andy Warhol Prints, Edited by F. Feldman and C. Defendi, New York, 2003, p. 15). As he curated the visual components of his Ads series, one logo in particular had risen to the top of recognition by the American public.

    The year 1984 saw the arrival of Apple’s Macintosh, the first low-cost computer ever to be released to the public. In doing so, Apple’s value exploded, and the company’s mass appeal grew from a small elite sector to a large portion of Americans. The Macintosh computer, with its advanced graphic and printing capabilities, set a new standard for American—and global—technology. Soon recognized by the majority of America due to its infamous commercial parodying George Orwell’s imagined dystopia of the same year, the significance of the Macintosh computer was now due in part to the fact that it was such an enormously famous product. Warhol’s inclusion of the new Apple Macintosh Rainbow logo in his Ads series is a testament to an ingenious marketing campaign, one that took a consumer product and launched it into the pop ranks of Campbell’s Soup and Marilyn Monroe.

    While most of Warhol’s visual source material was traced then subjected to serigraphy (his preferred method of painting: silkscreening), Apple (From Ads set A), 1985, bears a unique aspect of design—a picture of Warhol’s making. Across the top portion of the picture, “Apple” appears in a bold, glowing, uppercase font, almost as the dominating shadow of the picture, the corporate God that gave birth to both the revolutionary product and its equally revolutionary design. Bordering the lower portion of the painting, we witness the identity of the product itself, obeying the grammatical function of a proper noun alone: only the rest letter is capitalized, the rest of the word in an approachable and friendly typeface. As if to emphasize its simplicity, “Macintosh” bears a single period after itself, punctuating its perfect form.

    But what marries these two counterpoints is the tacit beauty of the “bitten” apple logo, stating everything you need to know without explaining a single word. Its soft contours and warm familiarity conjure within the viewer a prime example of Americana—the apple given to a teacher. And, judging by the missing chunk on the right side, the teacher appreciated the gift very much. In addition, beams of color race across the expanse of the picture, ranging from the crisp colors of lavender and pink in the apple, to the misty peach and powder blues above. A silver of pigment pours across the upper left corner. Though Warhol’s takes creative liberties with the coloring of the apple (the actual rainbow descends green, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue), he gives us a logo of unquestioned vibrancy. He compounds Apple’s own inspired appeal with his own.

    Warhol’s Apple summons plenty of other associations—its rainbow coloring highlighting the influence of 1980s on themes and color, among others—yet what it certainly hits upon is Warhol’s youngest days in art, as a graphic designer in late 1950s and early 1960s: “It is surprising to realize that during his illustrious ten-year career as a commercial illustrator in New York, Andy Warhol often found himself in the position of producing work that was deemed too imaginative for his mass-market audience. He
    recalled years later, “This is when I decided not to be imaginative.” (D. De Salvo, “God is in the Details: The Prints of Andy Warhol”, Andy Warhol Prints, Edited by F. Feldman and C. Defendi, New York, 2003, p. 33). It seems that, much like Steve Jobs and his exodus from Apple during 1985-1997, the world wasn't ready for Andy Warhol’s genius. Yet, as they began to change the worlds of art and science singlehandedly, it became clear that to think differently from the rest of the pack was to think for the future. In the present lot, we see two masters of the future at work.

  • 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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5

Apple (From Ads set A)

1985
synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas
22 x 22 in. (55.9 x 55.9 cm)
Signed and dated “Andy Warhol 85” along the overlap.

Estimate
$450,000 - 650,000 

Sold for $482,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York