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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London

Andy Warhol
1928 - 1987
ABSTRACT PAINTING
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
51 by 40.5 cm. 20 1/8 by 16 in.
Executed circa 1982.
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This work is stamped by The Estate of Andy Warhol and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and numbered PA76.008 on the overlap and stamped by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts on the reverse.

Provenance

Anton Kern Gallery, New York
Daniel Blau, London
Private Collection, Europe
Sotheby's, London, Bear Witness, 10 March 2015, Lot 139
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

New York, Anton Kern Gallery, Andy Warhol: Fifteen Abstract Paintings, February - March 1998

Catalogue Note

Warhol’s unprecedented art of abstraction stands as the ultimate conclusion to the artist's epic career. In addition to his most famous works from this period – the Shadow Paintings, the Oxidation Paintings and the Rorschach series – the artist also produced a series of Abstract Paintings, which includes the present two works. Variously evoking something of Rothko’s exuberance of transformative colour, Kline’s structural expressionism and Pollock’s investigations into autonomous composition, Warhol’s abstraction is ultimately without comparison. Abstract Paintings from 1982 are chromatically and compositionally complex examples of this revered yet compact corpus. Composed as harmonious symphonies of colour and line, the present works offer a delicate equilibrium in which raucous upsurges are met with tranquil and meditative junctures. Such distinctions further accentuate an evanescent materiality while demonstrating Warhol’s experimentation with the fragmentation of pictorial space.

Dazzling in its display of effervescent hues, Untitled displays a cacophony of riotous colour in which provocative outbursts swell to create explosive sequences of erupting scrawls. Accents of crimson, green and azure occupy the background, dominated by parallel brushstrokes of orange, golden in tone. Simultaneously juxtaposing yet complementing its vibrancy, Untitled displays the same image although masked by an ethereal stratum of white. Hiding and revealing, illuminating and masking; there is a fascinating relationship of opposites at play in which form and content appear inextricably linked. As Warhol comments “Nothing can always be the subject of something. I mean, what’s nice about those paintings is you could do them every five years... anytime you wanted to, when you had the time... because there’s nothing to read into them... Because even if the paints stayed the same, everything else – and everyone else – would have changed” (Andy Warhol cited in: Exh. Cat. New York, Gagosian Gallery, Cast a Cold Eye: The Late Work of Andy Warhol, 2006, p. 198).

Warhol’s artistic reputation rested on the iconic works of the 1960s, namely the Campbell’s Soup Cans, the Brillo Boxes, the Marilyns, Elvises, Jackies, and the silkscreened car crashes. Having announced his official retirement from painting in 1965, Warhol primarily focused his activities on film, business ventures, gossip, fashion and nightlife. Warhol’s oeuvre took a new turn in the 1980s with experiments in abstract painting. The Abstract Paintings were in some ways a reaction against the artist’s fatigue with aspects of his earlier work, and a desire for a radically new direction. Returning from a trip to Paris, Warhol wrote in his diary: “I wanted to rush home and paint and stop doing society portraits” (Andy Warhol cited in: Ariella Budick, ‘Andy Warhol’s mature abstract works’, Financial Times, 25 June 2010, online). Furthermore, whereas most of the artist’s abstract works are still recognisable as images, as in the case of the Shadows, or as traces of a process, as with the Oxidation series, the present two Abstract Paintings show Warhol entirely immersed in the physical act of painting.

Created at a mature moment in his career in which the artist revisited and evaluated motifs from his earlier works, Abstract Paintings 1982 are rare and exceptional examples that displays the full gamut of Warhol’s creative and artistic potency.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London