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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Frederick W. Hughes, New York
    Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
    Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
    Sotheby’s, New York, ‘Contemporary Art, Evening’, 10 May 2005, lot 65
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Drawings & Related Works 1951–1986, 13 February – 22 March 2003

  • Literature

    Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures Volume1: 1961–1963, New York, 2002, cat. no. 26, p. 42 (illustrated in colour)
    Andy Warhol: Drawings & Related Works 1951–1986, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2003, p. 88 (illustrated in colour)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Buying is more American than thinking, and I’m as American as they come.” ANDY WARHOL

    The Spring of 1961, the year in which Watches was made,
    was a significant moment in Andy Warhol’s career and
    in the history of 20th-century art. This was when Andy
    Warhol left his successful job as a commercial illustrator
    for various magazines in New York and took his first steps
    towards being an independent artist. Watches symbolises
    this pivotal moment in Warhol’s career as an artist. While
    his subjects remain in the world of consumption and
    mass production, we can see the artist moving away in
    this painting from his own pictorial language towards
    the mass visual language of American society. Suddenly
    Americans saw everyday objects such as watches,
    vacuum cleaners, TVs and, later, Campbell’s soup cans,
    as if for the first time. These objects, as enlarged, twodimensional
    and repeated images, were totally familiar
    yet visually arresting. A startlingly fresh way of seeing the
    world was established.

    “Once you ‘got’ pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again.” (Andy Warhol from Popism: The Warhol ’60s)

    Warhol used an opaque projector to enlarge the Watches advertisement clipping, published just once in the Sunday Daily News on 26 March 1961, onto the canvas. Working freehand, he reproduced the projection on the canvas without the help of a pencil under drawing. A fragmented part of the advertisement’s general heading is placed on the top of the painting, with the words “OF VALUE”, as well as the incomplete word “WATCHES”, which appeared over the right-hand side of a two-page spread. Compared
    with other works of the series, Watches stands out for its clean layout and minimal graphic intervention.

    In January of 1958, Warhol had seen Jasper Johns’s first show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. Johns appropriated popular American iconography such as the flag, target and numbers as the imagery of his paintings, which in turn Warhol appropriated for his own early works. Benjamin Buchloh has written that “Warhol’s dialogue with Rauschenberg’s work finds parallel in his critical revisions of the legacy of Jasper Johns. By contrast, his own new mass-cultural iconography of consumption and the portraits of collective scopic prostitution looked just suddenly more specific, more concretely American than the American flag itself.” (Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, ‘Andy Warhol’s one-dimensional art: 1956–1966’, in Kynaston McShine, ed., Andy Warhol, A Retrospective, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1989, p. 51)

    Watches marked a time of great significance in Warhol’s working methods. This unique work was made shortly before Warhol started using his trademark silkscreens. The strong pictorial emphasis of both Watches and the rest of the Newspaper Advertisements series, prefigure the graphic sensibility of the silkscreen technique that would eventually lift images of consumer products from the trivial to the exceptional and beautiful. Only a year after Watches, Warhol exhibited the now iconic paintings of Campbell’s soup cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in July 1962. These small canvas works of everyday objects created a sensation in the art world, bringing both Warhol and Pop art into the national spotlight.

    Andy Warhol, who always wanted to be punctual, regularly wore a Cartier Tank wristwatch. His choice was not necessarily because it was a classic, elegant watch, but rather because it was worn by celebrities such as Jackie Onassis, Truman Capote, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. Warhol was a professional artist and knew that time was money, and that for an artist’s career, timing was everything. Watches is the perfect metaphor for Warhol at this point in his career.

  • Artist Biography

    Andy Warhol

    American • 1928 - 1987

    Known as the “King of Pop,” Andy Warhol was the leading face of the Pop Art movement in the United States 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 like Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities like 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 a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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12

Watches

1961
water-based paint on cotton duck
180.3 x 122.6 cm (70 7/8 x 48 1/4 in)

Estimate
£1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for £1,004,450

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012
London