Lot 108
  • 108

ANDY WARHOL | Rorschach

70,000 - 90,000 GBP
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  • Andy Warhol
  • Rorschach
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 50.8 by 40.6 cm. 20 by 16 in.
  • Executed in 1984.


Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998


Los Angeles, Gagosian Gallery, Rorschach Paintings, September - October 1996


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate although there are more yellow undertones to the background and the overall tonality is slightly lighter in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals a fine tension crack running intermittently along the extreme outer edges. Further close inspection reveals some light wear with associated faint rub marks in places along the edges and corner tips. There is a fold line running vertically along the centre of the composition, which is in keeping with the artist’s working process. There are a small number of scuff marks with associated superficial losses towards the lower left corner, some of which fluoresce lightly when examined under ultraviolet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Rorschach is a stunning example of Andy Warhol’s eponymous series, which mirrors the methods of the famous ‘inkblot’ test. The test, which was invented by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach, provided ten different standardised blots of ink on paper which the patient was encouraged to decipher. Dr Rorschach believed that the patient’s interpretations were an insight into the inner workings of their consciousness. Warhol originally misunderstood the clinical process, believing that the patients created the inkblots and doctors used their creations to discover the patterns and traits of the human mind. Undeterred from his mistake and intrigued by the test’s serial repetitiveness and formulaic impersonality, Warhol invented his own version. Achieved in a stylised performance not dissimilar to Jackson Pollock’s drip dance, paint was poured onto one side of a canvas and then folded vertically to imprint the other half. The resulting liquescent beings were open to any form of interpretation, where the viewer projects their own desires and fantasies onto the imagery. Warhol believed that much abstract painting functioned in a similar way to Rorschach’s ink test. Instead of artists communicating their objectives through abstract form, Warhol believed the flow of thought ran the opposite way with the viewer beaming their deeply personal emotions back onto the canvas. As he expanded, “I was trying to do these to actually read into them and write about them, but I never really had the time to do that. So I was going to hire somebody to read into them, to pretend it was me, so that they’d be a little more… interesting” (Andy Warhol in conversation with Robert Nickas, in: ‘Andy Warhol’s Rorschach Test’, Arts Magazine, October 1986, p. 28). The entire series of Warhol’s Rorschach Paintings, many of which had never been on view before, were exhibited in at Gagosian in 1996. The show not only promoted the larger monochrome works but included an entire floor of the intensely vibrant multicoloured works, displaying butterfly-like blots in brilliant tones of pink, yellow, sea-green, violet and cobalt blue, such as the present work. Indeed, Rorschach is a seductively experimental piece, favouring a symmetrical network of thick, syrupy veins of paint left behind by Warhol's pour-and-fold technique. With the basis for the series rooted in psychological study, the Rorschach Paintings develop a strong connection with the conscious mind. The creative aftermath of these works gives way to a spectrum of conceptual translation and emotional understanding, conjuring a deep variety of response and conversation.

This work is stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and numbered PA75.001 on the overlap.