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

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  • Provenance

    Glynn, Ltd., Geneva

  • Exhibited

    Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Andy Warhol, 4 June – 3 August, 2002; New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol – Flowers, 11 November – 21 December, 2002

  • Literature

    M. Tuchman, Poster Catalogue, Emotional Mystery, Cologne, 2002; G. Celant, Superwarhol, Milan, 2003; Staff of the Andy Warhol Museum, Andy Warhol, 365 Takes, New York, 2004; Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Gmurzynska – Exhibitions Catalogues 1965 – 2006, Zurich, 2006, p. 62 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Mostly known for his colourful paintings of celebrity icons and works from his death and disaster series to numerous portraits of himself, AndyWarhol never stepped short of surprising the art world with new and reinvented ideas. Often realising them in the form of painting and its varying subject matters,Warhol would occasionally confront different artistic genres to promote his new thoughts and creations, whilst simultaneously exploring these as new means of communicating to a wider audience. Never shying away from investigating fresh techniques and systems within the artistic mode of expression,Warhol would continuously find himself pushing the boundaries beyond those of modern art, developing new forms and styles, whilst discovering new artistic fodder for his Pop creations. Creating works that radically challenged high modernist ideas and concepts of originality,Warhol was becoming the mastermind in fundamentally blurring the distinctions between high art and popular culture. If through painting, sculpture or video,Warhol’s tantalising artistic directions engaged in basing his works on ready-made objects or even pre-conceived concepts, re-vitalising their original appearance by giving them a ‘Warholian makeover’. Adhering to the Duchampian idea of the readymade, his movements in different artistic spheres kept his art alive, infusing breaths of fresh air through means of a paint brush or a click of a button. Although best known perhaps for his silkscreen paintings of celebrity icons or fashionable objects within the realm of popular culture,Warhol would occasionally slip away from his mass media images in order to produce something slightly more uncharacteristic. In 1964, Henry Geldzahler, then curator to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NewYork, suggested thatWarhol consider making a series of silkscreens based on flowers as subject matter – a disarmingly pure motif that would introduce an unexpected change to this installation. It is a fact, that for as long as painters have applied pigment to canvas or artisans have perfected their craft, the flower in all its symbolism and natural beauty has never gone unnoticed as pictorial subject matter, across a wide range of genres, such as painting, pottery or even architecture. By selecting this fragile botanical image,Warhol was consciously delving back into the history of art, and revisiting the established canon of still-life painting, aligning himself with masters and their long-standing traditional ‘obsessions’ with floral patterns, such as Monet and his lilies,Van Gogh and his flowers and nowWarhol’s ‘Flower Power Period’.Although first executed as paintings of all sizes and colours for a show at the Paris based Gallery of Ileana Sonnabend,Warhol’s fascination with nature and the image of the flower would follow him up until the early 70s, where his interpretation of the age-old motif had once again been revamped in the form of three-dimensional xographic prints, serving as his base material for the monumental sculptural installation and present lot –Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall). Completed during the pinnacle stage of his continuous rise to popularity,Warhol redefined his expressive gestures both painterly and sculpturally, leading up to this crescendo of an installation – 70 daisy xographic prints, installed on a wall and curtainedbehind a showering waterfall. Breathtaking in all aspects,Warhol’s wonderlike daisy paradise, revealed itself as an amalgamation of art historical references and contemporary cultural styles – a work that called to be experienced and interacted by those who viewed it. Executed in 1971, Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall), was created at a time when the Greenhouse Effect was gaining awareness throughout the world – a trigger, which led many artist in the United States and Europe to turn their attention to ecological issues on a global scale. Playing with a traditional art historical theme,Warhol embarked on his installation spectacle, exploring the boundaries between nature and culture.With 70 holographic prints of daisies placed against green blades of grass and mounted between Plexiglas sheets,Warhol visually produced a floral landscape of exceptional size and varying angles, viewed through a curtain of artificial water. Although not comprised of natural elements per se, the idea behind the work stemmed from the natural environment, creating a vision of nature, through whichWarhol visually translated an artificial world into a natural one – a call to maintain a real world opposed to a simulated one. For Warhol, “flower images celebrate[d] the natural world, its mania for blossoming and its infinite palette of colours.” (D. Pinchbeck, ‘Flowers’ in GagosianExhibition Catalogue, Flowers, NewYork, 2002)Warhol’s transformation of a ready-made image into a monumental work of art best describes this unique and fascinating sculptural installation.As a departure from his habitual medium and most common subject matter, the present lot shares many similarities with Dadaist style performances of the early 20th Century that took place at the CabaretVoltaire in Zurich. Basing their performances on sound poetry and simultaneous poetry, their outcome was a mish-mash of noises that aimed at mirroring the senseless mass murder that had engulfed Europe during the FirstWorld War. Although not carrying the same message as the performances of the Dadaists,Warhol’s Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) equally becomes a carrier of messages. Each panel features a single vibrant colour Daisy image on a square format with a showering waterfall in front of the entire field of daisies – conveying the aforementioned ecological issues that were to become increasingly apparent during the 70s.With the installation’s rushing sound of water,Warhol cleverly taps his viewers into his Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) – a botanical world with a sort of electric vitality and an uncanny aliveness., where the hypnotic sound of water captivated his viewer’s attention, allowing them to interact with his botanical kingdom of serenity both on a physical and psychological level. Although not typicallyWarholian in execution, Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) is a striking example of one ofWarhol’s most successful artistic projects and subjects. A motif that had occupied and inspired him from the 1950s when he was making drawings of blotted-line daises, roses, and gold foiled irises as early commissioned artworks or book illustrations. It is through Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) – a magnificent performative work, that we recogniseWarhol’s artistic spectrum. It brings together his love for floral motifs, his understanding of the flower throughout art history and the role flowers have and will continue to play in our visual and emotional culture. Its prophetic nature is fundamental within the field of art today, encapsulating the art of installation and performance in one, whilst combining the interactive ideas of multimedia and sound art as main features of this large-scale installation. Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall) is a sublime work that in all its ‘naturalness’ has become a great cultural touchstone inWarhol’s artistic career – a work that examines beauty, symbolism and the scientific significance of flowers.

  • 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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Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall)

Mixed media installation with 70 Xographic prints.
Wall surface: 213.4 x 609 cm. (84 x 240 in); overall: 335.3 x 630 x 244 cm. (132 x 248 x 96 in).
This work is to be included in the forthcoming  Volume III of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné in preparation by Neil Prinz.

£500,000 - 700,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm