Andy Warhol - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I had energy and wanted to rush home and paint and stop doing society portraits.”
    —Andy Warhol
    A quintessentially Warholian image, Panda Drummer (Toy Series) exemplifies the artist’s unique ability to appropriate powerful symbols of popular postwar culture, using them at once to celebrate this age of commodity consumption and to provoke a more astute cultural commentary on these social forces. Depicting a wind-up panda toy with an endearingly childish palette of primary colours and expressionistic lines which energise its infinite stream of drumming, the work taps into a tender and joyful nostalgia which works on both an individual and collective level. 
    Throughout his career, Warhol remained fascinated by popular culture, consumer objects, and the celebrity icons of the age, producing a body of work that itself shaped the visual landscape of the second half of the 20th century in profound ways. The image of the panda drummer was conceived to form part of a series of toy paintings, Pictures for Children, commissioned by art dealer Bruno Bischofberger for an exhibition at his Zurich gallery in 1983. In traditional Warholian style, he depicts the toys with a commercial flair, where the flat broad planes of colour and prominent contours emulate the aesthetics of their boxes and packaging. However, offering a rare glimpse of sentimentality, the subjects are sourced from Warhol’s own extensive collection of vintage toys which he had built as a child and continued to assemble in adulthood. The artist had suffered with chronic illness for much of his early life and spent long periods bedbound, a time spent reading comic books and magazines which proved to have an enduring influence on his later artmaking. Lost in a delightfully simple world of play removed from our own, Warhol’s charming drumming panda is animated by an immediately recognisable and infectious joy. Although made for children, the work is truly inclusive, encouraging the viewer - and the artist himself - to return to the escapist freedoms and comforts of childhood imagination.  
    In his later work, Warhol became increasingly invested in the emotions, anxieties, and geopolitical contexts of the age. The detached polished appearance of his silkscreen works became liberated by dynamic gestural strokes of paint and his iconography shifted from Soup Cans to Hammer and Sickles, from Marilyn to Mao. The same year Pictures for Children was exhibited, a US nuclear missile strike was falsely detected by the Soviet Union leading to a brief yet tense moment where the world stood on the brink of war once again. Panda Drummer offers a harmonious contrast to the volatile realities of a conflicted and divided world by encapsulating a shared sentimental experience of childhood play, serving as an enduring mark of Warhol’s ability to turn our most overlooked, everyday objects back on ourselves, as mirrors of our contemporary condition. 

    • Provenance

      Peder Bonnier, New York​
      Private Collection, United States​
      Clearwater Contemporary​
      Opera Gallery, Monaco​
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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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Panda Drummer (Toy Series)

signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 83' and stamped by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York and numbered 'A117.09' on the overlap​
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas​
35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 10 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1983.

Full Cataloguing

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £184,150

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024