Andy Warhol - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips
  • “You live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.”
    —Andy Warhol
    Uncle Sam emerges from Andy Warhol’s fascination with celebrity, fame, and consumption. This screenprint comes from Warhol’s 1981 Myths portfolio, in which the artist created portraits of ten fictional subjects well-known in American Post-War culture. Pulling inspiration from television, the silver screen, and American iconography, other recognizable faces in this series include Santa Claus, Dracula, Mickey Mouse, and Super Man. When planning several of the prints from Myths, Warhol invited friends and actors to his studio to dress up in costume and pose in front of his Polaroid camera, photographing them on film before creating the final screenprints. Among them was Margaret Hamilton posing as her iconic role of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Warhol cast himself as the 1930s comic book hero, The Shadow. By placing his own recognizable face alongside these fictional characters, Warhol plays with the idea of artist as celebrity and inserts himself as a quintessential part of American culture in this era. Other prints, such as Mickey Mouse, used reference images from film and television as their base, which Warhol then manipulated with vibrant colors before embellishing the final composition with glistening diamond dust.

    While these characters were synonymous with American culture, they were also deeply personal to the artist. The portraits that make up the Myths portfolio can be read as an introspective project, Santa Claus referencing Warhol’s life-long love of Christmas and Superman taking the artist back to his childhood when comic books offered comfort and distraction from an immobilizing illness. Uncle Sam represents the artist’s connection to American society and everyday life in Post-War America. The subjects Warhol chose are so significant that even forty years later viewers might still feel a sense of nostalgia when looking at these prints. Even following the artist’s death, his likeness, as featured in The Shadow, continues to be as relevant and recognizable, as his body of work inspires a new generation of onlookers.

    • Provenance

      Sotheby's, Contemporary Prints, November 14, 1987, lot 919
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 259

    • 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 a Private New York Collection


Uncle Sam, from Myths (F. & S. 259)

Screenprint in colors with diamond dust, on Lenox Museum Board, the full sheet.
S. 38 x 38 in. (96.5 x 96.5 cm)
Signed and numbered 118/200 in pencil (there were also 30 artist's proofs), published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York (with their and the artist's copyright inkstamp on the reverse), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $38,100

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023