A powerful declaration of the genesis of Warhol’s major contribution to art history, Ten One Dollar Bills (Lot 1044) is a classic example of Warhol's work made when the artist just started experimenting with the method of silkscreening. Warhol had already revolutionized American art by restoring representation and objective imagery to painting in the startling guise of common, everyday objects such as Campbell's Soup Cans, comics, magazine advertisements and newspaper headlines in late 1961 to early 1962. But the `Pop Art' revolution was not complete until Warhol discovered the artistic technique that would give him the freedom to exploit his new approach to subject matter. Warhol responded to the post-war world's media and consumerist saturation by seeking a form of art that was mechanical in the production process. This approach removed the hand of the artist, creating the same sense of distance and disconnect that was emerging in the world around him. The series of "Dollar Bill'' paintings were done in March-April 1962 and Warhol's first silkscreens were created from ink drawings he made on acetate, picturing the fronts and backs of one- and two-dollar bills.
The "Dollar Bill'' series consist of predominantly small paintings of single dollar bills (some shown front and back), with only 10 paintings of dollar bills done in serial or group formats. Throughout his oeuvre one of Warhol's ultimate goal was to create a repetitive multiplicity of one image within the same work. In this regard, the Dollar Bill paintings embody this theme in both subject and technique. They are the second earliest serial paintings, executed after the large stenciled soup cans. As the ultimate symbol of desire and attainment, status and worth, need and greed, the dollar bill is without peer in its internationalism and potent symbolism. Its primacy as international currency was in its ascendance and the post-war boom in America was a recognized phenomenon, as the dollar bill became a symbol of America in its essence just at the time Warhol captured it as art.
1 Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again), New York 1975, p. 92
2 Glenn O'Brien, "Interview with Andy Warhol," High Times, no. 24, August 1977, p. 34
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