12 Art-World Reactions to the Varied Works of Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol PRINTED DOLLAR #6 Estimate 200,000–300,000.jpg
Launch Slideshow

As the art-world anticipates the opening of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s much-anticipated survey of the Pop Art icon, it is as evident as ever that Warhol remains something of an enigma. Over the decades, his varied motifs – celebrities, brand logos, flowers, to name just a few – have garnered intriguing commentary from leading scholars and critics. Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Day Auction (15 November) presents an array of works by the iconic artist – click ahead to see the works and discover twelve different interpretations of Warhol and his work, including those of the artist himself.

12 Art-World Reactions to the Varied Works of Andy Warhol

  • Andy Warhol, Dollar Sign, 1981. Estimate $250,000­–350,000
    “I just paint things I always thought were beautiful, things you use every day and never think about. I’m working on soups and I’ve been doing some paintings of money. I just do it because I like it.” – Andy Warhol
  • Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Box: Chicken Rice, 1986. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    “In a somewhat ironic turn of events, Campbell’s initially approached Warhol to create an image based on their new product, and the result was a three-quarter view of a soup box on a square canvas. Warhol then took this idea and produced an entire series of smaller works experimenting with both size and color as well as with a range of soup flavors...yet what is particularly new in this series is the great degree of color change, from standard red, yellow and white to purple, magenta and lime green, or metallic copper and silver to hot orange and pink...the more intense the coloration, the less recognizable the Campbell’s product becomes.” – Michael Kohn, writer and gallerist.1

    1. “From Can to Box,” in Exh. Cat., Warhol Campbell’s Soup Boxes, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, 1986, pp. 13–14.
  • Andy Warhol, Judith Green [Three Works], 1963. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    “People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually, it's the way things happen to you in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like you're watching television. You don't feel anything.” – Andy Warhol
    Andy Warhol, Del Monte Peach Halves, 1964. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    “Andy Warhol is the most extreme of the Pop artists, and his shows are invariably more interesting as ideas...The result is that his exhibitions have the power of shocking and arousing indignation...There was a curious effect on the gallery; it became the storage room of an A&P. And the A&P became an art gallery—one found oneself avoiding the cartons as though they had suddenly become valuable.” – Lawrence Campbell, artist and critic.1

    1. “Andy Warhol,” ArtNews, Vol. 63, No. 4 , Summer 1964, p. 16.
  • Andy Warhol, Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975. Estimate $150,000–250,000.
    “Every song has a memory; every song has the ability to make or break your heart, shut down the heart, and open the eyes. But I’m afraid if you look at a thing long enough; it loses all of its meaning” – Andy Warhol
  • Andy Warhol, Repent and Sin No More! Positive; Repent and Sin No More! Negative [Two Works], 1985–1986. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    “I can imagine Warhol sitting there... and having a conversation with somebody, and talking about sex and drugs, and somebody says, repent and sin no more...

    [Warhol, imagined]: ‘Should I repent and sin no more? My answer is no. I’m very pro sin.’” – James Frey, writer.1

    1. quoted in Ralph Gardner, “A Divine Intervention,” 8 October 2010, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Box: Noodle Soup, 1986. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    "It's high time for the art world to admit that the avant-garde is dead. It was killed by my hero, Andy Warhol, who incorporated into his art all the gaudy commercial imagery of capitalism (like Campbell's soup cans) that most artists had stubbornly scorned." – Camille Paglia, art historian and critic. 1

    1. "How Capitalism Can Save Art" 5 October 2012, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Andy Warhol, Flowers. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    “What is incredible about the best of the flower paintings...is that they present a distillation of much of the strength of Warhol’s art–the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer’s gaze. The garish and brilliantly colored flowers always gravitate toward the surrounding blackness and finally end in a sea of morbidity. No matter how much one wishes these flowers to remain beautiful they perish under one’s gaze, as if haunted by death.’’ – John Coplans, artist, writer and curator.1

    1. Andy Warhol, New York 1978, p. 52.
  • Andy Warhol, One Dollar Bills (Backs), 1962. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall.” – Andy Warhol
  • Andy Warhol, Untitled (Folding Screen), circa 1957. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    “He was fascinated by what went on around him, but this didn't necessarily mean he encouraged or condoned it; nor does it mean that he condemned it. I think his position was always one of being very cool about everything, and coolness involves detachment. But the reverse is also true. Every artist is to some extent a paradox. There was no spite in Andy. Money was important to Andy but he was generous. Every Christmas I got a little painting.” John Richardson, art historian. 1

    1. quoted in Jonathan Jones, “My 15 Minutes," 7 February 2002, The Guardian.
  • Andy Warhol, Hamburger, 1985–1986. Estimate $120,000–150,000.
    "If Abstract Expressionism reached for the sublime, Pop turned ordinary imagery into icons. Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol illuminated the transformative power of context and the process of reproduction." Arne Glimcher, gallerist and filmmaker.1

    1. "Brave New Art World," 2 February 2009, Daily Beast.
    Andy Warhol, Printed Dollar #6, 1962. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    “What’s great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking." – Andy Warhol
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