Andy Warhol - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

     Thomas Ammann Fine Arts, Zurich; Private collection, New York; Skarstedt Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Andy Warhol’s ‘Shadows’ appear arbitrary in their dissimilarity to the world around us, yet breathlessly ethereal in their evocation of subtle patterns and colour that conjure a connection to the subconscious, as if the artist renders shadows of a dream-like state. While the genesis for this unique series is somewhat contested, it is commonly agreed that uponWarhol’s instruction, his assistant at the time Ronnie Cotrone photographed posed maquettes with the principal objective to create abstract forms devoid of context and representation. The present lot titled Shadow is part of a large series of works Warhol devoted to the theme in 1978. “Each ‘Shadow’ suggest not just the feeling of film but also its physical structure, as the individual paintings suggest film frames (which, after all, cast a kind of shadow in projection). Not surprisingly, we can see an affinity to Warhol’s early films in this series of paintings. Both bodies of work maintain a fixed point of view, use stasis as a primary aesthetic strategy and are notable for their extensiveness (in time for the films, in space for the paintings). In the ‘Shadows’, variation takes the place of narration, as the paintings are put through their colouristic paces. Each panel, with two exceptions, consists of black and one other colour.That colour ranges from deep shades of brown, purple, ultramarine and emerald, up through hot pink, fire-engine red, fluorescent chartreuse and grating lavender,” (R. Kalina, ‘Andy Warhol at the Dia Center – Brief Article’ in Art in America, NewYork, February, 2000). As with much of Warhol’s late work, there is a deliberate communication on the artist’s part to evoke the seminal art of his generation. Since his early beginnings in the 1960s, Warhol ambitiously set out to reinvent American art and is considered a crucial progenitor of Pop Art, breaking ties with his forebears’ deep-seated roots in Abstract Expressionism, whose artwork only a decade previously held the top post as America’s principal artistic contribution, to forge his own common expression to which he became one of the founding leaders. Posthumously however, Warhol’s career has also been interpreted by critics as an ironic twist from his early roots, for the artist constantly and very loquaciously strove towards achieving a fixed template of Abstraction Expressionism. The Shadow paintings are considered an important starting point for this theory, as their intentional setting and intentionally imageless forms indeed reference Modernism’s tenets of seriality, repetition, and of course, abstraction. “Meditations on the vanitas and the afterlife had been invited inWarhol’s series previous to Shadows: the Skulls were similarly based on photographs made in raking light by [Ronnie] Cutrone at Warhol’s behest. During the early 1980s, Warhol continued to make so-called abstract paintings that loosely focused on questions of representation, most notably the Rorschachs of 1984, but only in 1986 did he embark on two series that again brought into direct opposition such larger concerns. As evidenced in the series of the Last Supper paintings, issues relating to the spiritual and transcendent arise in Warhol’s art in the context of figuration through the vehicles of the banal and the mass produced, that is, through clichéd reproductions of artisanal copies of an image that was both a masterpiece of Western art and a compelling religious icon. By contrast, in the concurrent series, the Camouflages, Warhol once more explored, as he had in Shadows, epistemological questions concerning representation and reality.That venture’s recourse to a complexity oxymoronic notion of abstraction is typical of this archetypal contrarian’s sophisticated and subtle response to what was considered the most profound art of the time,” (L. Cooke,AndyWarhol Shadows, New York, 1995-2005 taken from

  • 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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Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas.
198 x 125 xm. (78 x 49 1/4 in).
Signed and dated ‘Andy Warhol 1978’ on the overlap.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £446,100

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm