Strong Prices for Andy Warhol:
Jasper Johns’s Colorful Target from 1974
NEW YORK, 29 April 2020 – Sotheby's Prints & Multiples online auction concluded yesterday with a total of $3.4 million and a strong 88% of lots sold. This result meets the auction’s high estimate, and further marks our highest-ever total for an online auction of Prints & Multiples.
Originally scheduled as a live auction and successfully converted to an online sale, Prints & Multiples was highlighted by strong results for works by Andy Warhol, led by his Grapes (Suite of 6) that achieved $375,000 – a world auction record for the set. Half of all buyers made their first purchase in a Prints sale at Sotheby’s, with hundreds of bidders participating from 30 countries.
Mary Bartow, Head of Sotheby's Prints Department in New York, commented: "We are thrilled with the results of our strongest online sale to-date. We were particularly encouraged by the participation of more than 100 new bidders, who responded to the offering worldwide. Top prices were dominated by the work of Andy Warhol, including his record-setting Grapes from 1979, but prices were buoyant overall, with half of all lots offered selling above expectations. Under unprecedented circumstances, we are pleased to deliver these results on behalf of our clients.”
The auction was highlighted by two exceptional prints by Andy Warhol, led by Grapes (Suite of 6) that sold for $375,000 – more than double its $180,000 high estimate, and a world auction record for the work, previously set at Sotheby’s in October 2018 when it achieved $212,500. Warhol executed Grapes in 1979, situated between the artist’s iconic celebrity portraiture, and the more fictional characters that comprised Warhol’s 1980s portfolios. The set of grapes – reduced to the artist’s selection of improbable color combinations – strips the subject of any context and represents a question presented by any Warhol image: is a person or an object the artist has reduced to two dimensions more simple or more complex than originally believed?
Among the last works that Warhol created before his death in February 1987, Moonwalk (Feldman & Schellmann II.405) from 1987 achieved $187,500, surpassing its $175,000 high estimate. Moonwalk was intended as part of a portfolio entitled ‘TV’, which would depict important images from the history of television in America. However, Moonwalk was the only composition from the series that was ultimately printed. Warhol combined two separate photographs of Buzz Aldrin and the American flag – both NASA stills taken by Neil Armstrong – to create the screenprint. The resulting composition is an iconic element of Warhol’s printmaking and illustration of his profound effect on American visual culture.
The auction was highlighted further by Jasper Johns’s Target (ULAE 147) from 1974 which achieved $162,500 (estimate $125,000/200,000). The work belongs to a set of motifs including the American flag, numbers, and the alphabet which the artist began exploring in the mid-1950s to move beyond Abstract Expressionism and reintroduce subject matter into his work.