Andy Warhol - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “We were thinking of important Renaissance paintings or details of such.... Ultimately, we suggested four subjects to Andy. He looked at them and without listening to our wordy explanations simply asked 'can't you find more famous paintings?'”
    —Jörg Schellmann 
    From the early 1980s, Andy Warhol turned his attention away from portraying the celebrities of his contemporary society. Instead, he began to focus on celebrities of history - iconic figures and motifs of the past. Despite this shift from popular culture to historical imagery, Warhol nonetheless continued to focus his practice on one central theme: fame.  


    In 1983, the renowned German publisher Jörg Schellmann, together with his business partner Bernd Klüser, suggested to Warhol that he make a portfolio of prints based on Renaissance masterworks. After carefully considering which paintings would be most fitting, Schellmann and Klüser settled on Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (c. 1485), Leonardo da Vinci’s The Annunciation (1472), Paolo Uccello’s St. George and the Dragon (1472), and Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Duca da Montedeltro (c.1474). Despite being created five centuries prior, these paintings were pertinent subjects for Warhol due to their status as revered icons of art history. Warhol’s enduring fascination with mass reproduction, iconic imagery, and the allure of celebrity reverberated powerfully within these masterpieces. In transforming them into twentieth-century icons, Warhol amplified their historical significance as they took centre stage in his own Pop renaissance. 


    Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, c. 1484-1486, Galleria della Uffizi, Florence. Image: Photo Scala, Florence - courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali e del Turismo

    Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus (c. 1484–1486), commissioned by the Medici family, exemplifies the ideals of the Italian Renaissance. Depicting the goddess Venus rising from the sea on a scallop shell, the painting embodies classical beauty and mythological symbolism. Botticelli's meticulous execution, characterised by soft colours, delicate brushwork, and harmonious proportions, reflects a revival of ancient Greek and Roman aesthetics. The painting holds immense significance as a pinnacle of Renaissance art and it has captivated audiences over centuries, achieving global fame. Instantly recognisable and endlessly reproduced, the painting was a fitting subject for Warhol and his exploration of twentieth century mass-media, consumer culture, and celebrity.


    Left: Marble statue of Aphrodite, 1st or 2nd century CE, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, 1952, 52.11.5
    Middle: Sandro Botticelli, Venus, 1490, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Image: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Jörg P. Anders
    Right: Marilyn Monroe. Image: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

    “We recognised that the head of Venus by Botticelli was reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, or Grace Kelly.... We explained how famous these paintings were in Europe, which Andy accepted with a short, 'okay, great’.”
    —Jörg Schellmann 

    With her flowing golden hair and harmonious proportions, Botticelli’s Venus stands as a quintessential depiction of Renaissance-era feminine ideals that looked back to Antiquity. This representation of idealised beauty finds parallels in Andy Warhol's renowned portraits of Marilyn Monroe, a cultural icon celebrated for her captivating looks and magnetic charisma. In appropriating images of these revered beauties, Warhol confronts viewers with the pervasive cult of appearance constructed within our own society, drawing connections between classical ideals and contemporary celebrity worship. Moreover, both artworks consider the transformative power of art as a pivotal force in shaping enduring ideals, giving rise to phenomena such as the elegance and grace associated with Venus and the timeless allure of Monroe. “The best thing about a picture”, Warhol declared, “is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” This sentiment is palpable in Warhol's meticulous preservation of Monroe's fame through his extensive series of screenprints. Similarly, he reinvented Botticelli's muse, reshaping the iconic depiction of Venus and thereby contributing to its perpetual cultural significance. As Warhol immortalised these cultural icons, he underscored the societal mechanisms that construct beauty standards and ensure that they transcend centuries, presenting a poignant commentary on fame and the enduring allure of aesthetic ideals.


    Jörg Schellmann and Andy Warhol, Warhol Studio at Broadway/Union Square, New York, 1983. Image: © Schellmann Art

    Warhol made use of his favourite technique, the screenprint, to render the historic Renaissance paintings in bold plains of vibrant colours, overlaid with his signature misaligned outline. Notably, unlike most of Warhol’s screenprints, in Details of Renaissance Painting the margins were not trimmed and instead left as wide plains of exposed paper. This was due to a joint decision between the artist and publishers that the borders were in keeping with the historical imagery, representing a classical passe-poute. A trial proof, the present lot is a unique work that embodies Warhol’s central concerns in his later years - fame, reproduction, icons, and the canon of art history.

    “After a few weeks we received a call from New York: the first proofs were done. How exciting! The rules were that the publisher could choose from the total proofs produced. That was not an easy task as there were so many beautiful and interesting images.”
    —Jörg Schellmann 

    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      see Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 316-319
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 344-345
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Andy Warhol Unique, Munich/New York, 2014, p. 105

    • 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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Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project


Details of Renaissance Paintings (Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482) (see F. & S. 316-319)

Unique screenprint in colours, on Arches Aquarelle paper, with full margins.
I. 65 x 94.3 cm (25 5/8 x 37 1/8 in.)
S. 81.5 x 111.8 cm (32 1/8 x 44 in.)

Signed and numbered 'TP 18/36' in pencil (a unique colour variant trial proof, the edition was 70 and 18 artist's proofs), published by Edition Schellmann & Klüser, Munich and New York, unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £234,950

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+44 20 7318 4024

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024