Andy Warhol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I adore America. My image is a statement of the symbols of the harsh, impersonal products and brash metallic objects on which America is built today. It is a projection of everything that can be bought and sold, the practical but impermanent symbols that sustain us."
    —Andy Warhol
    Painted between 1985 and 1986, Andy Warhol’s Mineola Motorcycle (positive) presents his iconic pop vernacular in large scale. Presumably one of just two paintings of the subject matter executed in this size, the work’s presence alone nods to that of a billboard, aiding in the artist’s appropriation of advertised imagery. In this particular work, Warhol employs a minimal palette of black and white to illustrate the ad for a motorcycle. In contrast to Warhol’s colorful Maos and Marilyns, the monochrome nature of the work recalls some of the artist’s earliest explorations with projected imagery onto canvas such as Typewriter (1) and Bathtub, each from 1961 and both housed in the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. More than two decades later and in the last of his life, Warhol’s Mineola Motorcycle transcends these earlier paintings, elevating the branded imagery to a larger-than-life icon—a symbol of post-war American subculture.

     

    The Evolution of the Warhol’s Motorcycle


    The image of the motorcycle was, to Warhol, a symbol of masculinity—a theme he embraced often throughout his prolific oeuvre. In 1966, Warhol silkscreened a still of Marlon Brando from the 1953 film The Wild One, where Brando played a biker named Johnny Strabler. Later, Kenneth Anger’s 1963 film, Scorpio Rising highlighted a new biking subculture among the gay community, while Dennis Hopper’s famed Easy Rider from 1969 followed two bikers carrying cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles. In these films, the motorcycle served as a means to transport quintessential American bad boys. Warhol was fascinated by these figures, and likely saw the bike as an object which represented both freedom and rebellion. While Warhol’s portraits of Brando celebrate the man himself, here in Mineola Motorcycle, Warhol strips the subject to just the bike. The emphasis switches to the bike as a commodity, specifically the classic motorcycle produced in Mineola, New York. “We ship worldwide / Credit cards accepted” reads across the bottom, suggesting that now, in 1986, everyone can be Johnny Strabler. In typical Warholian fashion, the artist finds universality in the seemingly mundane, and symbolism in the object.

     

    Marlon Brando (Johnny Strabler).
    Marlon Brando (Johnny Strabler). Image: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock PhotoImage.

    "I painted them all by hand—I myself."
    —Andy Warhol
    During the time of Mineola Motorcycle (positive)’s creation, Warhol began revisiting his earlier artmaking techniques. In the beginning of his career with works like Typewriter (1) and Bathtub, the artist utilized opaque projectors to enlarge images onto surfaces, after which he painted them by hand. For the Black & White Ads, Warhol revisited this technique with new tools. He began by clipping ads, tracing their projections onto paper, and making acetates that would then be screened onto canvas. He also returned to the technique of making brush studies to emulate brushstrokes and paint drips in the screens. Finally, to finish off the work, he would paint directly onto the canvas, tracing over the projections of the ads. As Joseph D. Ketner II states in his essay on Warhol’s last decade, “In these Ads Warhol toys mischievously with the illusory potential of hand and mechanical processes, putting a new spin on trompe-l'oeil painting.”i

     

     

    Andy Warhol. The Last Supper. 1986. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. ©2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
    Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986, Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Image: © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS/Artimage, London, Artwork: © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

    Mineola Motorcycle (positive), like many of the works Warhol made towards the end of his life, is thus a culmination of some of his best techniques and concepts. One of Warhol’s late masterworks, The Last Supper,  also known as “The Big C,” Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, from the same year of the present work, is quite literally a “greatest hits” homage to Warhol’s practice. Here, we see his renewed interest in figure painting, coalesced with branded imagery, including the trademark Mineola motorcycles in various sizes and a “6.99” price tag emblazoned in the center of the canvas in red and yellow. The combination of these elements illustrates Warhol’s own reinventions in this defining decade of the 1980s. Works such as Mineola Motorcycle (positive) and The Last Supper showcase Warhol’s unmatched ability to combine appropriated imagery with his own hand, while simultaneously commenting on the brand-obsessed consumer culture he was living in—a model that has lived on in today’s contemporary art world.

     

    i Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, 2009, pp. 35-36. 

    • Provenance

      Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
      Galerie Bastian, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol Retrospective, May 25–August 18, 2002, no. 230, pp. 273, 313 (illustrated, p. 273)

    • Literature

      Charles Stuckey, ed., Andy Warhol, Heaven and Hell Are Just One Breath Away, Late Paintings and Related Works, 1984-1986, New York, 1992, p. 64 (illustrated)

    • 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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Property of an Important European Collector

123

Mineola Motorcycle (positive)

numbered "PA 10.236" on the stretcher
synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
72 x 80 in. (182.9 x 203.2 cm)
Executed in 1985-1986.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $816,500

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 November 2022