Lot 195
  • 195

ANDY WARHOL | Moon Explorer

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Andy Warhol
  • Moon Explorer
  • signed and dated 83 on the overlap
  • acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
  • 35.5 by 28 cm. 14 by 11 in.


Private Collection, Europe Cologne, Kunsthaus Lempertz, 10 November 2000, Lot 595
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the overall tonality is slightly deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals some minute tension cracks to all four extreme overturn edges and some tiny spots of wear to the upper two corner tips and to the lower left hand corner tip. Further close inspection reveals some minute media accretions in isolated places throughout, and a very short and faint rub mark towards the bottom right hand corner tip, which has some very fine associated hairline cracks. No restoration is apparent 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

Held in vibrant orange, sky blue and calcium red, Andy Warhol’s Moon Explorer from 1983 epitomises the spirit of twentieth-century childhood and its associated innocence as seen through the prism of contemporary media. Warhol brings the image of a toy robot to life with vibrant colours and a process he had mastered perfectly: the silkscreen. The palette brings forward the graphical simplicity of the original toy, and shows it in a new world of imagination by adding additional outlines to the original screen. The Toy Painting series has its origins in 1982 when the gallerist and long-time friend of Andy Warhol's, Bruno Bischofberger, asked him to create a small series of works for children, similar as he had done in 1982 when he requested a series of paintings depicting Mao. Warhol's response were the Toy Paintings; a series of acrylic and silkscreen ink canvases whose subject matter took inspiration from Warhol’s personal collection of childhood tin toys. First shown in the exhibition Paintings for Children at Bischofberger's Zurich gallery in 1983, the pieces were displayed against a wallpaper of silver fish swimming across a blue background designed by Warhol himself. Each canvas was hung at the eye-level of a three to five year old child causing adult viewers to crouch or squat to examine them. Bischofberger even charged an entrance fee to all those who attended the exhibition without being accompanied by a child under the age of six. As a gleeful saboteur of artistic dogma and etiquette, this was a decision that Warhol must have enjoyed – and indeed, in Moon Explorer perhaps the strongest feeling that abides is of an artist reveling in the freedom of youth.

Painted towards the end of the Warhol’s career, the commercial notion of the Toy Painting series is reminiscent to his celebrated Campbell Soup Cans, Brillo boxes and Coca-Cola bottles, which started the Pop Art movement. Similar to these works, Warhol only illustrated the packaging, rather than the actual toys. Here, the same simple visual language which established Warhol’s career as one of the most innovative artists of his generation still resonates. When asked about this new notion of Pop, Warhol remarked "once you 'got' Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought pop, you could never see America the same way again. The mystery was gone, but the amazement was just starting” (Pat Hackett, Popism: the Warhol '60s, New York 1980, pp. 39-40).