acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Please note this work has been authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board and assigned the number A105.113 on the overlap.
Alexander Iolas, Athens
Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1980s
Andy Warhol's series of Shadow paintings concerns itself with the complex and subtle interplay with issues of representation, primarily of reality versus illusion and presence versus absence. The Shadows represent a concretized and unashamed depiction of nothingness that does not declare itself to be anything other than it is. The present work, from 1978, is seemingly abstract and intriguingly enigmatic, as Warhol's dark and mysterious subject matter is set against a pulsating and luscious red background in Shadow (Red). By the mid 1970s, Warhol's work was more dissociated from the commercial subject matter that had consumed him for much of his career choosing instead to paint in a more purely abstract style than ever before. The divergence began with the Oxidation paintings - also of the late 1970s - and ended with Rorschachs and Camouflage paintings in the 1980s. To create the Shadow paintings, Warhol used specifically constructed cardboard maquettes that he would lean or set against the walls of his office at various angles, casting a variety of shadows. The haunting images that resulted draw the viewer in and ultimately refuse all perceptual analysis revealing that in reality they are nothing but a painted plane – a striking image on a pure surface that carries a filmic presence.
Set against a strong chromatic field, the shadow in the present work is amplified and the composition richly seductive. Like many of the paintings from Warhol's 1960's Death and Disaster series, the Shadow paintings are sumptuous in color and high style, but their underlying tone is one of sadness and tragedy. In Shadow (Red), Warhol's surface is broadly handled; his energetic application of cresting red pigment alludes to the brushstrokes of the Abstract Expressionists. Warhol's desire to engage with the tenets of the Abstract Expressionist canon is hardly coincidental although when Warhol referenced this art movement he was typically irreverent. Shadow (Red) can most closely be compared to the painterly blocks of form one finds in Franz Kline's work – particularly his color abstractions. Warhol's most extensive exploration into the subject came from his vast installation work of 102 panels that was purchased as a single entity by the Lone Star Foundation (now the Dia Center for the Arts) and first exhibited in January 1979. As Donna de Salvo notes of the Shadow paintings, "no essence is revealed, no single truth asserts itself. The experience is one of a late twentieth century landscape, everything is surface and nothing but surface." (Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Andy Warhol, London, 2002, p. 51)
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