Andy Warhol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 4, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Estate of Gunter Sachs
    Munich, Karl & Faber Kunstauktionen, 5 June 2014, lot 587
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Warhol Unlimited, 2 October 2015 - 7 February 2016, pp. 179-171 (another from the edition exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    F. Feldman, J. Schellmann, Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Prints 1962-1987, Milan, 2003, pp. 77-78 (another from the edition illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Repetition is indispensable in Andy Warhol’s series Death and Disaster. From an early stage, Warhol understood that prolonged exposure to violence lead to a desensitisation of it: 'When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn't really have an effect.' ('What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters', Art News, November 1963). Reiterating the same image of the lone electric chair suggests that it is an instrument for mass-production of death. The liberal use of the striking colours brought about a stark contrast to the macabre subject matter. Invented to maximise efficiency in executions and make it as impersonal as possible, the electric chair merges Warhol’s obsession with mechanised production and death.

    Beginning in 1964, Warhol produced paintings based on a press photograph of the electric chair used in the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In the 1960s, parallel to the series Death and Disasters, America was embroiled in fervent debates of the ethics with regards to capital punishment. These morbid images were presented void of any moral consolation or social commentary. Warhol further distanced himself emotionally from the grim subject through the use of vivid colours. The silkscreen process introduced unevenness, irregularities, and glare to the image, retaining the sense of immediacy of press photo he appropriated

    The same industrial means of mass production that produced Coca-Cola, Campbell’s Soup, and other consumer goods so central to Warhol’s practice, this portfolio of electric chairs highlighted America’s death industry and the shadow of the rampant consumerist culture.

  • 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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Electric Chair

signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 71' on the reverse on each print and stamp numbered
screenprint on Velin Arches paper, in 10 parts
each 90.2 x 121.9 cm (35 1/2 x 47 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1971, this work is number 158 from an edition of 250 plus 50 artist's proofs published by Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £143,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2016