Andy Warhol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, April 16, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'Nowadays, whether I’m depicting a shoe or a Coca Cola bottle, or presenting a fresh face in an interview, a film, or on cable TV, I’m invariably producing portraits. That may be down to the fact that I find other people so much more interesting than myself.' —Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol’s commissioned portraits immortalised his sitters through the medium of acrylic, silkscreen and canvas. Combing photography, painting and silkscreen allowed Warhol to explore his fascination with people, creating the perfected image of someone who had attained the American dream – a portrait of a could be idol, ‘As far as Andy was concerned, the portrait was an idealised interpretation of someone’s personality’i noted Vincent Fremont. Yet the power of these punchy pop images are also indebted to their undeniable pathos. Andy enabled everyone to be beautiful, allowing his sitter to feel good under his uniformed mask. The screenprint technique allowed Warhol to edit out imperfections, reducing the face to eyes and painted lips, the skin bare and ridden of any impurities, timeless and impermeable. Pat Hackett, a confidante and employee of Warhol once said, ‘In short, he would do unto others as he would wish others do unto him.’ii 


    Warhol had an enduring fixation with appearance and beauty regimes, no doubt stemming from his skin condition, which, as a child in Pittsburgh had earnt him the nickname ‘spot’ for his vitiligo and he was teased for having a red nose. In despair at his own appearance, Warhol revered beauty, and was liberal with his appreciation: 'I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.’iii 


    Sharing a similar interest in obsessive beauty was the esteemed dermatologist Janet Sartin, who founded the Janet Sartin skin treatment salon in New York in 1945. Sartin was part of the celebrity culture which Warhol adored and inhabited. Revered for her facial treatments, Sartin pioneered new techniques and products, sought after by the wealthy and famous. Depicted against a background of soft, delicate, rose-skin coloured pink, Janet Sartin gazes both at the viewer and at a point beyond time. Freezing her image at this exact moment, Warhol combats and beats the aging process. She is a poster girl for her own treatment centre. There is an undeniable connection between artist and sitter- indeed Warhol, was Sartin’s patient. Janet Sartin made people beautiful through her work in the clinic, much like Warhol immortalised and beautified his sitters in his portraits made at his factory. 


    Robert Levin, Andy Warhol undergoing a facial treatment at the Janet Sartin Spa in New York City, 1981. Image: © Robert Levin.  

    As early as 1969, Warhol produced his portraits on his since standardised 40 x 40 inch scale. This enabled his protagonists to be larger than life, big enough to make an impact, whilst simultaneously still of a scale that allowed easy production, display and distribution, an essential factor of Warhol’s art-business. Warhol would begin the portraiture process using his Polaroid Big-Shot camera, usually shot close range, less than a metre away. Often taking over one hundred photographs, Warhol would go on to select four or five, which an employee would then process to produce small-scale versions in black and white on acetate film. ‘Warhol often used these as the raw material for a radical transformation of the subject that might be compared to a cosmetic procedure performed by a plastic surgeon. The composition and contrast were altered, as were the mouth and nose, the proportions balanced and blemishes retouched.’iv These edited films were then enlarged to the final painting size, on which Warhol marked up any last corrections. A coloured primer coat would then be applied to the canvas, followed by the copying of the film outlines, masking and addition of the coloured areas with a brush, and application of the prepared silkscreen using acetate film and the silkscreen ink with a scraper. The finished product allowed Warhol to eliminate the evidence of the hand (he did not like his hands – he deemed them too big) and to a certain extent, automate art making.

    'The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine.' —Andy WarholPerhaps uniquely among Warhol’s commissioned portraits, this beautiful portrayal of Janet Sartin reveals not only Warhol’s immediately recognisable style and perfected process, it also has the touching ability to hint at Warhol very human insecurities through his fundamental relationship with the sitter. 


    i Vincent Fremont, ‘Andy Warhol’s Porträts’, in Andy Warhol Porträts, exh. cat., Anthony d’Offay, London, Munich and New York, 1993, p. 30

    ii Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, 2020, p. 47

    iii Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, London and New York, 2007, [1975], p. 61 

    iv Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, 2020, p. 44

    • Provenance

      The Estate of Andy Warhol
      Matteo Lampertico Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Milan/Turin, Voena Gallery, Andy Warhol, American Beauty, 8 October - 15 December 2002 (illustrated, n.p.)

    • 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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Janet Sartin

synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
101.7 x 101.9 cm (40 x 40 1/8 in.)
Executed in 1982, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York, and numbered 'PO 50.214'.

Full Cataloguing

£180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £226,800

Contact Specialist


Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+ 44 20 7318 4065



20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 16 April 2021