Andy Warhol - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Phillips
  • The photobooth strip documents the collaboration of two seminal figures in 20th century art: artist Andy Warhol and gallerist Holly Solomon.


    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.


    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. 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)

    • Provenance

      Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

    • Exhibited

      A New Reality: Black-and-White Photography in Contemporary Art, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1 September - 18 November 2007

    • 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

    • 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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Holly Solomon

Unique gelatin silver, four-frame photobooth strip.
7 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (19.7 x 3.8 cm)
Estate stamp on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $7,560

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs, New York

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 12 October 2022