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  • Provenance

    Estate of the artist
    Andy Warhol Foundation
    Collection of Holly Solomon
    Collection of Thomas Solomon

  • Literature

    Angell, Andy Warhol Screen Tests: The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, p. 189, for variants
    Éditions Stemmle, Andy Warhol Photography, pp. 94, 96-99; for variants
    Indiana, Andy Warhol Photobooth Pictures, n.p. for a variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    The photobooth strip of images offered here documents the collaboration of two seminal figures in 20th century art: artist Andy Warhol and gallerist Holly Solomon. Both left an indelible imprint on the artworld whose impact is still felt today. Each of the strip’s four images synthesizes Solomon’s exuberant intelligence and Warhol’s adventurous embrace of populist media, creating a tour-de-force of art, process, and personality.

    In the early 1960s, Holly Solomon – art collector and aspiring actress – sought out photographer Richard Avedon to have her portrait made. She balked at Avedon’s fee, however, and set her sights on other artists. Andy Warhol’s price tag was also too high for her, so Solomon moved on to Roy Lichtenstein, who portrayed her as a comic-strip protagonist in his iconic 1965-66 painting I. . . I’m Sorry. When Solomon delivered payment for that portrait to Leo Castelli Gallery, it was misunderstood as a down payment for a sitting with Warhol. So, by chance, two soon-to-be titans of postwar art came together to create an enduring series of photographic portraits, a prime example of which is offered here.

    Warhol’s process for creating his large-scale canvases at the time was to start with a photobooth portrait. Warhol and Solomon met at an arcade on 47th Street and Broadway to lay the groundwork for their project. Solomon noted that Warhol was very particular about which booth they used: ‘He did pick precisely the photobooth, and he explained to me that he wanted dark and light to be quite clear.’ Once the ideal booth had been selected, Warhol let Solomon alone to perform for the camera as she saw fit. Solomon had studied with legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg and she used this training to summon a vast array of expressions, poses, and characters for the mechanically operated camera which took four exposures per strip. The final product, an entire inventory of roles that Solomon inhabited with vigor and creativity, was handed over to Warhol to select the image he would use for the final canvas.

    Warhol would ultimately produce nine brilliant canvases. But the exuberance and force-of-personality of the source material cannot be denied, and the example offered here is an especially fine one. In each frame Solomon offers up a different avatar of herself, conveying her movie-star charisma and sharp wit. She said, ‘I wanted to be Brigitte Bardot. I wanted to be Jeanne Moreau, Marilyn Monroe all packed into one,’ and observed that Warhol’s ‘greatest gift was giving people what they thought they wanted.’

    Holly Solomon was a seminal figure in the advancement of Post-War art, and her name is inextricably linked to the major artists of her day. She began her engagement with the art world as a collector in the early 1960s, gravitating toward Pop and Conceptual Art at an especially formative time, collecting work and developing friendships with Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Dan Flavin, Lucas Samaras, and countless others. As her involvement in the New York City art world deepened she opened her first space at 98 Greene Street in Soho in 1969 along with her husband Horace. Solomon’s Greene Street space, designed by Gordon Matta-Clark, was daringly experimental and captured the freewheeling creativity of the day with exhibitions, film showings, performances, and poetry readings. In 1975, the Holly Solomon Gallery opened at 392 West Broadway where Solomon retained her adventurous spirit and willingness to promote and support artists such as Matta-Clark, Sigmar Polke, Mary Heilmann, Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, William Wegman, and members of the Pattern and Decoration movement including Robert Kushner. As a collector and a dealer, Solomon demonstrated her unfailing ability to recognize creative talent long before others in the field.

    It was Warhol’s genius to see the creative potential in media designed for consumer or commercial use, not for artists, such as the photobooth, the Polaroid, and the silkscreen. While his adoption of such media drew skepticism, Solomon saw Warhol’s choices as decisive and indicative of his unique artistic vision. She remarked: 'What nobody really understood about Andy at the time, was that he was a great artist. We don't understand that these contemporary painters and artists – when they are good – really understand media. When Andy did a photograph, when Lichtenstein would paint or do a drawing, they understood that medium, and what vocabulary they were going to add to the medium' (The Andy Warhol Photograph, p.94).

  • 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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42

Holly Solomon

1963-1964
Unique gelatin silver print.
7 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (19.7 x 3.8 cm)
Annotated 'X' and 'S' in ink on the verso.

Estimate
$15,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $23,940

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

 

Photographs

New York Auction 8 April 2021