Andy Warhol - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, June 7, 2023 | Phillips
  • “In August ‘62 I started doing silkscreens… I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect… when Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face – the first Marilyns.” — Andy Warhol

    When Andy Warhol heard of Marilyn Monroe’s untimely death in August 1962 – the same month he began experimenting with the silkscreen technique, which would come to define his career – the artist immediately began to immortalise the muse in an extended project of screenprinted repetitions. Drawing from a publicity still of Monroe taken for the film Niagara (1953), Warhol cropped the original photograph to further accentuate the starlet’s striking facial features, and obsessively repeated the image in a series of over fifty paintings.

    “The irony of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is that it is an icon of an icon created by an icon.” i

    Enamoured with the screenprinting technique, which allowed the artist to repeat his source material with even greater efficiency and detachment, Warhol founded his own print publishing business Factory Additions in 1967. For his first portfolio published and distributed through Factory Additions, Warhol revisited the youthful visage of the Hollywood actress, creating ten screenprints of this signature motif in an even more tightly cropped format. Identical in composition, the ten screenprints only differ in their varied palettes. Warhol utilised five screens to print each image from the portfolio: one that carried the photographic impression, and the other four to achieve the different layers of radiant colours that enhance the graphic power of each print.

    “I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”
    — Marilyn Monroe

    Through his adoption of commercial imagery, proliferated in vibrant colours using a technique intended for mass production, Warhol’s visual treatment of Marilyn has effectively transformed a photograph of the universally recognised Hollywood star into an emblem of American Pop. Yet, besides defining the aesthetic of the post-war movement, the portraits have further acquired a timeless appeal through the cropping, enlarging, decontextulising and endless reproduction of the original photograph. As a result, the enigmatic smile of Monroe has lingered in the collective consciousness for more than six decades following her death, continuing to capture public imagination and inspire artistic creation alike.



    i Isabella Geist, ‘Warhol’s “Marilyn”’, Forbes, 23 April 2002.

    • Provenance

      Ileana Sonnabend, Paris
      Gifted from the above to the present owner, circa 1970

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 27

    • 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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Property from a Distinguished Parisian Collection


Marilyn (F. & S. 27)

Screenprint in colours, on wove paper, the full sheet.
S. 91.5 x 91.6 cm (36 x 36 1/8 in.)
Signed in pencil and stamp-numbered 97/250 on the reverse (there were also 26 artist's proofs lettered A-Z), published by Factory Additions, New York, unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £127,000

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 7 - 8 June 2023