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  • Decadent, ultra-modern and provocative are but a few words that come to mind when fronted with Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe. After hearing of Monroe’s untimely death in 1962, the artist immortalised the muse in a series of over fifty paintings which, for a final moment, captured the unrivalled charisma and erotic Pop appeal of this iconic Hollywood star. An icon he would return to, Warhol created a series of ten screenprints of Monroe in 1967, the varying colourways of which have become synonymous with the artist’s mastery of the medium. 
     

    Andy Warhol, Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962. Image: Bridgeman Images,
    Artwork © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

    Borne from his background as a commercial artist - Warhol worked in advertising and designed store front displays in department stores throughout the 1950s - his continued engagement with screenprinting revealed his fascination with commercial processes and mass culture. Each image from this series was printed from five screens - one being the photographic impression, and the remaining four for the different layers of colour. While Warhol once famously quipped ‘the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel’, it is the practice’s seriality that renders the superficial subject-matter profound. 

    'It must be hard to be a model, because you’d want to be like the photograph of you, and you can’t ever look that way – and so you start to copy the photograph.'
    —Andy Warhol
    Taking Monroe’s film still from the movie Niagara (1958), Warhol directly tapped into the instantly recognizable image and reconfigured it as art, as he had famously done with Campbell’s Soup. Even so, the artist went a step further, and in electing to reproduce the series with varying degrees of colour and contrast, he captured the multiplicity of meaning within the real image of Marilyn Monroe. Known before her phantasmagorical eruption into fame as Norma Jean, Monroe tantalised audiences globally, drawing them closer whilst never fully revealing her true self.

     

    Publicity still of Marilyn Monroe for the film Niagara (1953), showing crop marks made by Andy Warhol. Image: The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Foundling Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
    © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London.

    The screenprints, then, are an indelible echo of this contention. Reflecting philosophically on the meaning of reality and recognition, Warhol reiterated Monroe’s face compulsively, imitating how the relentless projectors of Hollywood’s Golden Age once had. Like Marylin’s movies, Warhol fetishized and celebrated fame’s kitschy surface, freezing it in time. As we fix our face upon Monroe, the elusive nature of her life and death weighs heavy upon us, and we are ultimately forced to reckon with the sombre link between stardom and exploitation.

     

    Essentially prophetic, Marilyn resists a single definition. By combining our primal desire to recognise and be recognised with the profound implications that such an exercise may carry, Warhol’s Marilyn is Pop Art’s acme. A talismanic icon of mass consciousness – Warhol’s Marilyn’s, by way of spotlights and enigma, continue to compel viewers to return her mystical gaze. 

    • Condition Report

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 23

    • 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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Property from the Collection of Partner Re

46

Marilyn (F. & S. 23)

1967
Screenprint in colours, on wove paper, the full sheet.
S. 91.6 x 91.8 cm (36 1/8 x 36 1/8 in.)
Signed and dated in pencil and stamp-numbered 54/250 on the reverse (there were also 26 artist's proofs lettered A-Z), published by Factory Additions, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £207,900

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 19-20 January 2022