Andy Warhol, together with Pablo Picasso is one of the most sold artists in the art market. Indeed, his artistic output is phenomenal, ranging from paintings, to prints, drawings, and even polaroids.

In 2021, a total of 1,586 artworks by Andy Warhol sold at auction generating a turnover of USD 348,346,957. On 9 May 2022, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, dated 1964, broke a new auction record at Christies when it sold for USD 195,040,000. It seems art collectors never get enough from the artist who revolutionized the art world, and the art market in so many ways.

 

This article highlights some of the most important paintings sold since 1 January 2021 organized by topic relevant to the artist’s gigantic oeuvre.

Table of Content

1. Marilyn
2. Death and Disaster

3. Jackie
4. Elvis
5. Skull
6. Self-Portraits
8. Flowers
9. Portraits
10. Communism
11. Consumerism
12. Dollar Sign

 

1. Marilyn


 

ANDY WARHOL
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn
, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
40×40 inches (101.6×101.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 9 May 2022
USD 195,040,000
NEW WORLD RECORD AT AUCTION

There are few images in history that have the ability to transcend the time and place of their creation, surpassing even the reputation of their creator or the magnificence of their subject. From the classical beauty of the Venus de Milo and the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, to the sultry Sirens of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, the beauty of the human figure has inspired artists to extended their creativity to new heights. In the latter half of the twentieth-century, one woman captivated the world with her legendary looks, the Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe. This small town girl rose to become the most famous woman in the world, and today, the myth of Marilyn Monroe is still as potent as ever. This is due to one man: Andy Warhol, his unique ability to capture the humble beauty of a global superstar has seared her likeness onto our collective consciousness.

His flawless rendering has become the image of Marilyn Monroe. It represents not only her physical attractiveness, but also her cultural power and enduring legacy. Through this image, she lives on forever as one of the definitive artistic icons of all time, a Mona Lisa for the twentieth-century. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is Warhol’s ultimate depiction of his ultimate muse; an image that surpasses the transient nature of the actress’s life and the fame she endured. Distinguished by an inner luminosity, the screen idol’s legendary beauty radiates out from the surface of this large-scale painting. Her blond hair, piercing eyes, full-lips, and even her famous beauty spot are all rendered in a clarity and detail that is absent from other examples of Warhol’s famous screening process.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Nine Marilyns
, 1962
Acrylic, silkscreen ink and graphite on canvas
81.5 x 33.7 inches (207 x 85.7 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 15 November 2021
USD 47,373,000

 

Nine Marilyns from 1962 represents not only one of the most important and immediately iconic examples of Andy Warhol’s celebrated output, but also a uniquely searing iteration of perhaps the most infamous visage in contemporary popular culture. Belonging to a moment of extraordinary change in this most legendary of artistic careers, during which Warhol revolutionized the terms of popular visual culture in the early 1960s, the present work epitomizes the monumental themes of Warhol’s career: namely, an unprecedented artistic interrogation into the agencies of mass-media, celebrity, and death. In Marilyn Monroe, Warhol found the ultimate embodiment of these artistic obsessions. Rendered in succession with startling clarity and crispness against a luminous sterling background—conjuring the silver screen of the cinema—Warhol captures Monroe’s visage with a haunting power. The metallic expanse of the canvas accentuates the irrefutable mortality of its ill-fated subject, as Monroe’s immortal beauty is so exquisitely captured and offered up for perpetual consumption. The depiction of nine perfectly registered impressions in sequence across three rows positions the present work amongst Warhol’s key masterpieces, aligning it with the best of his early serial images. From the time of Monroe’s death in August 1962 to the end of that year, Warhol created twenty silkscreen paintings based on a publicity photograph of Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara, an image indelibly etched in the minds of millions worldwide. Of those twenty, there are only six serial Marilyn paintings in which her face is repeated in nine or more screens; the present work is one of only two from this esteemed group still in private hands. Uniting two figures of unprecedentedly outsize fame, Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, Nine Marilyns powerfully encapsulates the extraordinary impact Warhol’s praxis has had on the history of art and pop culture at large.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Nine Multicolored Marilyns (Reversal Series), 1979-1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
50×40 inches (127 x 101.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2021
USD 10,207,000

Nine Multicolored Marilyns (Reversal Series) brings together two of the greatest cultural figures of the last fifty years: the Pop artist Andy Warhol and the Hollywood movie star Marilyn Monroe. Painted towards the end of Warhol’s life, this large canvas is a triumphant return to the subject matter in which Warhol first visited in 1962, his iconic Gold Marilyn Monroe, now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He subsequently returned to her likeness several times over the course of his career, making her one of his most enduring subjects. With its vibrant disco inspired palette and unique use of a ‘negative’ image, this more contemporary Marilyn (Reversal Series) demonstrates that, even years later, Warhol was still at the top of his game. Against a backdrop of electric colors, Warhol presents a series of nine images of Marilyn Monroe. While much of her face looks like it has been plunged into deep shadow, her features—her famously luscious lips, her perfectly plucked eyebrows, and her twinkling eyes—all sparkle with high-keyed color. Even her famous beauty spot pierces the dark like a dazzling star in the night sky. In the Reversal series, the contrast between the multicolored and dark elements highlights Monroe’s physical beauty arguably more than any other of Warhol’s renderings of the artist, however there still remains a sense of personal darkness that consumed much of Monroe’s private life. Thus, perhaps more than any of his other Marilyn paintings, these later Reversals are a more reflective portrait of the real Monroe as she struggled to reconcile the superficial nature of movie superstardom with her own complex personality.

ANDY WARHOL
Two Marilyns (Double Marilyn), 1962
Silkscreen ink and graphite on canvas
26×14 inches (66 x 35.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2021
USD 15,817,500

Rendered with remarkable clarity directly onto the painted surface of the canvas, the iconic features that made Monroe adored by her millions of fans are rendered crisply in black silkscreen ink. Her famously luscious lips are curled into her classic pout; her piercing eyes stare out from the surface of the canvas, and are rendered in such detail that—particularly in the upper image—one can make out individual long eyelashes; and the individual strands of her perfectly coiffed bottle blond hair are given volume by the light and dark shadows that focus attention on her face like a halo. Finally, her most famous feature of all, her beauty spot, sits illuminated like a pinpoint on the surface of her cheek. In addition to the exceptional clarity of the images, Two Marilyns (Double Marilyn) is witness to Warhol’s working process as the graphite guidelines on where to place the individual screens on the canvas are left visible. This rare feature allows us to see the precision with which Warhol worked, carefully mapping out the surface of the canvas to ensure the maximum impact of his dual portraits. Warhol was fastidious in his attempts to create the right aesthetic, and these guidelines helped to ensure that the regularity of the repeated images was kept intact throughout the screening process.

ANDY WARHOL
9 Gold Marilyns (Reversal Series)
, 1980
Gold acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
54 x 41.5 inches (137 x 105.5 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2021
GBP 6,517,500

Forever suspended in shimmering gold paint, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic headshot is stacked and repeated in an assembly line composition that reinterprets the ornamental Medieval reliquary for our celebrity-obsessed age. Echoing Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962; The Museum of Modern Art, New York) – Warhol’s unique monumental painting from his very first body of work prompted by the film-star’s suicide in 1962 – the present work is a uniquely golden and imposing example from Warhol’s later series of Marilyn Reversals. Repeated nine times in negative, the present work is a paradigm of Warhol’s deeply reflective yet conceptually forward-looking Reversals series and an exceptional iteration of the ultimate Warholian subject.

ANDY WARHOL, Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962, THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, New-York

Standing at the very apex of Warhol’s 1980s oeuvre, Nine Gold Marilyns not only probes the prevalent dialogue of authorship and authenticity prevalent at the time, but also interrogates Warhol’s own artistic code with unparalleled visual impact. Where in 1962 Warhol had cemented Monroe’s status as a cult icon, more than twenty years later the impact of her Warholian likeness here not only registers the timeless quality of Monroe’s celebrity but also the symbolic power of Warhol himself.

 

2. Death and Disaster


ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
White Disaster [White Car Crash 19 Times], 1963
Silkscreen ink and graphite on primed canvas
144 ¾ x 82 ⅞ inches (367.7 x 210.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 16 November 2022
Estimate on Request
USD 85,350,500

There are exceptionally few works of art that invoke great reverential awe, that impart by their very presence a sublime contemplation of the universal human experience; these are the artworks which come to define their present, and which not only speak to the fundamental concerns of humanity—but memorialize them for eternity. The present work is irrefutably one of these true masterpieces. A monumental altarpiece for the modern age, Andy Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) from 1963 stands amongst the most radical and haunting artistic achievements of the twentieth century. Soaring above the viewer, Warhol’s towering canvas draws the viewer inward with an irresistible magnetism, while the white canvas emits a faintly miraculous glow, as if illuminated from within or perhaps above. Against the pure white, the dark rows of images, stacked and repeated with unerring purpose, draw our gaze ever upward in an experience of ascension: it is there that we are compelled to consider an image that is at once familiar and strange, personal and universal, beautiful yet terrible.

 

 

3. Jackie


ANDY WARHOL
Sixteen Jackies
, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, in sixteen parts
Each: 20×16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Overall: 81×65 inches (205.7 x 165.1 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 15 November 2021
USD 33,872,250

At once immediate and elusive, intimate and inaccessible, beloved yet haunting, the face of Jacqueline Kennedy—repeated sixteen times across the canvases of the present work—elicits an immediate emotive effect rivaled by few other famed visages of the modern era. A masterwork of Andy Warhol’s celebrated oeuvre, Sixteen Jackies powerfully exemplifies Warhol’s singular ability to appropriate and manipulate familiar imagery to examine greater cultural currents and moments—and the staggering power those moments can hold, decades later. Dating from the height of the artist’s groundbreaking career, Sixteen Jackies combines two of Warhol’s most sustained thematic fascinations: the shadowed tragedy of death and of the immortality of celebrity.

The sixteen canvases that comprise the present work together impart a nuanced and complex rendering of Jackie Kennedy, and furthermore offer a meditation on a country reeling from the loss of a political and cultural icon. Notably, the canvases that comprise Sixteen Jackies were originally included as part of the twenty-four Jackies that Warhol included in his legendary solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 1965. That same year, Sixteen Jackies was acquired by celebrated Philadelphia collectors David and Gerry Pincus who, as important early supporters of the ICA, had been introduced to Warhol during the exhibition. Sixteen Jackies remained in the Pincus Collection until 2006, when it was acquired by the Macklowe Collection.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Jackie, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
20×16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 842,800

Dating from his most celebrated period of production in the mid-1960s, Andy Warhol’s Jackie mines the groundbreaking themes of his Death and Disaster series alongside his contemporaneous fascination with celebrity culture. Catapulted to stardom with her husband’s election as President of the United States in November 1960, Jackie Kennedy became an inspirational heroine to millions in the optimistic climate of a newly rejuvenated post-war America. The present work showcases Jackie Kennedy, forlorn with her head bowed, attending the swearing-in of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963, immediately following the assassination of her husband President John F. Kennedy. Enraptured by grief and despair, the new widow is seen with a blank, shocked expression. The image is part of a group of eight original black and white photographs Warhol selected from a variety of printed sources first published in the weeks following the assassination. As an entire population sank into grief and bereavement, Warhol began to explore the discrepancies in the media’s presentation of events – ultimately illustrating the tension between public and private perception.

Warhol’s enduring fascination with the fragility of life extends beyond known celebrity subjects, as illustrated by his 1963 Death and Disasters. In his depictions of Jackie, however, Warhol was fully engrossed in both the public broadcasting of the assassination as well as the former First Lady’s existence beyond her husband’s death. The President’s funeral was one of the first national events to be extensively covered by the American media; TV networks went live with wall-to-wall coverage and news editors documented every moment of the tragedy with excruciating detail. Onassis’s life became a commodity as her face lined newspaper covers, magazines articles, and television screens. Indeed, her facial expressions were recapitulated in the media “to such an extent that no better historical monument on the exhibitionism of American emotional value is conceivable” (Rainer Crone, Andy Warhol, New York 1970, p. 29).

4. Elvis


 

ANDY WARHOL
Elvis
, 1963
Silkscreen ink and silver paint on canvas
82 3/4 x 46 1/4 inches (210.2 x 117.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York, 19 May 2022
USD 21,581,000

A gleaming visionary force, Andy Warhol’s Elvis embodies the artist’s singular ability to appropriate and manipulate familiar imagery to examine greater cultural currents and moments. Inspired by a publicity shot, Elvis Presley is adorned with a gunslinger for the western film Flaming Star and stands life-size, striking a pose that is instantly recognizable against the silver screen. Shimmering, the silver ground encapsulates the glistening brilliance of Hollywood, distinguished in Elvis by the exceptional silkscreen technique against the surface. In the summer of 1963, Andy Warhol was thirty-four years old and, having perfected his silkscreen technique the previous year, was beginning to transform the landscape of visual culture in America.

Appropriating the visual vernacular of consumerism, Warhol levelled his silkscreen at subjects he perceived as the most important concerns of contemporary life: icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and, of course, Elvis Presley. Elvis was the ultimate subject for Warhol to explore popular culture and fame, a figure whose fame and image dominated the cultural zeitgeist of the 1950s and 1960s. Multiplying readymade images of these icons gleaned from newspapers, magazines and advertising, Warhol turned a mirror onto the contradictions of quotidian existence. With a playful theatricality and painterly illusionistic rendering of space, Elvis typifies Warhol’s career-long fascination with the immortality of celebrity and popular culture.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Double Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963
Silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas
81.7 x 48 inches (207.6 x 121.9 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 15 November 2021
USD 37,042,500

Double Elvis is the culmination of Warhol’s unprecedented creative journey to this point of his career; both summation of what had come before and anticipatory touchstone for the artistic landmarks that would follow. Its sublime aesthetic character attests the technical mastery of the silk-screening technique that he had achieved by this time. The screening process was ideally suited to Warhol’s aim to distance himself from the painterly process: the regimented dots of the screen here are crisply registered on the flat silver picture plane, divesting the work of an artistic hand or authorial voice. The movie star countenance is reduced to a prefabricated schema of dots, and by faithfully reproducing the alien aesthetic of a found image Warhol recruits the technical process to query issues of authorship and authenticity. Moreover, and unlike the preceding Silver Electric Chairs that carry clear shadows of brushstrokes, the silver paint here has also been applied by spray can so that it is solid and opaque, eradicating the remnants of authorship and moving closer to Warhol’s impersonal mechanical ideal.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Elvis 2 Times, 1963
Silkscreen ink and silver paint on canvas
81.5 x 71.7 inches (207 x 181.3 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 12 May 2021
USD 37,032,000

In the summer of 1963 Andy Warhol was thirty-four years old and, having perfected his silkscreen technique the previous year, was beginning to transform the landscape of visual culture in America. Appropriating the visual vernacular of consumerism, Warhol leveled his silkscreen at subjects he perceived as the most important concerns of contemporary life: icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and, of course, Elvis Presley. Multiplying readymade images of these icons gleaned from newspapers, magazines and advertising, Warhol turned a mirror onto the contradictions of quotidian existence.

For his part, in 1963 Elvis Presley was twenty-eight years old and a cultural phenomenon, having already recorded seventeen number one singles and seven number one albums, starred in eleven films, and grossed tens of millions of dollars. An instantly recognizable figure around the globe, Elvis presented a perfect subject for Warhol. Executed in 1963, Elvis 2 Times captures the undisputed King of Rock and Roll with devastating intimacy and efficiency, rendered on a scale that is physically larger than life. Here we are not only presented with the legendary Elvis, but confronted with the specter of death, staring at us down the barrel of a gun, the character of the lone cowboy, straddling the great frontier and the American dream, epitomizing the glorified glamour of the “silver screen.” As with Marilyn, Liz and Marlon Brando, Warhol instinctively understood Elvis as not only a celebrity, but a brand: an industrialized construct, designed for mass consumption not unlike a Coca-Cola bottle or Campbell’s Soup Can, and exposed that brand as a precisely composed non-reality.

 

5. Skull


 

ANDY WARHOL
Skull, 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
72×80 inches (182.9 x 203.2 cm)
Christie’s New-York, 12 May 2022
USD 24,000,000

Rendered in stark swathes of color and overlaid with a black screen print, this monumental painting is a striking example of Warhol’s series of the same name. The titular object is highlighted in a powder blue that contrasts with the shocking butter yellow of its shadow. Playing with the color of light and dark areas within his compositions was key to the artist’s practice, and creating fields of pure color where one might expect deep shadow or bright reflection helps to flatten and transform the three-dimensional nature of the source object. Surrounding the blue and yellow center is a field of forest green that stretches up from the bottom of the canvas until it collides with an area of muted chartreuse. Warhol embraces some of his more painterly leanings in this composition, and the discernible, emotive brushwork serves as a counterpoint to the sharp outline of the screened image that makes up the main subject. Each work in the Skull series takes on the same image but is differentiated by Warhol’s painterly incursion. Of course, the juxtaposition of a human element within the screening process is not as flippant as Warhol would have one believe. Pairing the mutable brushstroke of the human artist with the apparently cold production of the silkscreen serves as a catalyst for probing the work’s humanity and Warhol’s own relationship to the subject of death.

 

6. Self-Portraits


 

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Self-Portrait, 1964
Acrylic, silver paint and silkscreen ink on linen
20 x 16 1/2 inches (50.8 x 41.9 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 17 November 2022
Estimated: USD 3,000,000 – 5,000,000
USD 3,300,000

An extraordinary painting from a seminal moment in Andy Warhol’s early career, Self-Portrait offers a groundbreaking look into the artist’s ceaseless quest for self-invention. Created in 1964, the present work to the second series of “photo-booth” self-portraits that Warhol made between March and April of 1964. Warhol painted just eleven such self-portraits, of with only three feature the same vivid “phthalo green” background as Self-Portrait. At least five of these are now located in major museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and the Sammlung Froehlich, Stuttgart. The photo-booth was Warhol’s preferred method of self-portraiture in the early ‘60s, and in the present work, he mugs for the camera, jutting out his chin and projecting a defiant air of self-confidence.

Having established his flair for color with his portraits of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 – known as the Marilyn “flavors” – and continuing with his paintings of Liz Taylor and the 36-part portrait of Ethel Scull, Warhol now applied the same colorful approach to his own self-image in the “photo-booth” self-portraits of 1964. Each of these featured a different brightly-colored background, which Warhol painted by hand, using flat, high-keyed colors including cadmium red, yellow, gray, and in the present work, “phthalo green.” Warhol’s use of phthalo green is significant, as he also used that same color to stirring effect in the Death and Disaster series, including Green Car Crash and the Electric Chair paintings. In the present work, Warhol has also used the same metallic silver paint from the Elvis series for his own hair, bringing the silvery walls of the Factory into his own self-image for the first time. The eyes – long considered a “window to the soul” – are actually “empty,” as the green we see is in fact the background layer showing through. This interesting technique Warhol employed in only three of these self-portraits, including the only diptych in the group.

ANDY WARHOL
Self-Portrait, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
80×80 inches (203.2 x 203.2 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2022
GBP 12,737,500 / USD 15,524,223

Andy Warhol’s final series of self-portraits, executed in 1986 in the months preceding his untimely death, are among the most intense and iconic works of his career. Often referred to as the Fright Wig paintings, this bold series immortalizes the mysterious and enigmatic artistic persona that Warhol had meticulously cultivated throughout his career. On the surface of the present work, Warhol stares out towards the viewer in an intense gaze, his vivid pink head floating against a stark black ground. Piercing and all-consuming, Self-Portrait presents a resounding image of both Warhol the man and Warhol the artistic phenomenon. The viewer sees the artist tackling the challenges of self-depiction with an unrivalled and up-close intensity: Depicting himself as if on the brink of eternity, Warhol here evokes a feeling of the supernatural through a vibrantly contrasting composition. Measuring an imposing 203.2 by 203.2 centimetres, the present painting is executed in the second-largest scale within this cycle of self-portraits. Works from this same subset reside in a number of prestigious museum collections, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate, London; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; The National Gallery of Victoria, Victoria; and Museum Brandhorst, Munich.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Self-Portrait, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
80×80 inches (203.2 x 203.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York, 16 May 2022
USD 18,708,500

 

 

7. Portraits


ANDY WARHOL
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1982
Metallic pigment, acrylic, silkscreen ink and urine on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 10 November 2021
USD 40,091,500

ANDY WARHOL
Muhammad Ali, 1977
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 10 November 2021
USD 18,107,500

ANDY WARHOL
The Star (Greta Garbo as Mata Hari), 1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
60×60 inches (152.4 x 152.4 cm)
Phillips New-York: 16 May 2022
USD 9,580,000

Andy Warhol’s The Star (Greta Garbo as Mata Hari) marks the artist’s celebrated return to one of his most enduring preoccupations: celebrity and commodification. The present work extends the legacy of Warhol’s earliest investigations into these concepts, defined by his now iconic images of starlets such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Closely related to the candy-colored paintings of Marilyn and Liz from the early 1960s, in the present work, Warhol once again displays his prowess with color. Emerging from a lava red background, Warhol articulates the details of Mata Hari’s elaborate costume and boldly offsets Garbo’s luminous skin with blue eyeshadow and scarlet lips. Conceived as part of his Myths series in 1981, The Star is an iconic tribute to one of the major silver screen goddesses in the artist’s Pop pantheon. Rarely seen in public, the present work has resided in the same private collection for over three decades.

 

ANDY WARHOL
The American Indian (Russell Means)
, 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, in three parts
Each: 50×42 inches (127 x 106.7 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 May 2022
USD 6,184,400

Rendered in serial impressions across three panels, The American Indian (Russell Means) from 1976 is a stirring synthesis of Andy Warhol’s unparalleled devotion to popular culture and his adoption of political imagery in his artistic output. Conceived as a project with West Coast dealer and Ace Gallery owner Doug Chrismas, the present triptych comprises three of the twenty-six paintings that Warhol made of this scale. Produced with Warhol’s semi-mechanical silkscreen technique, the richly expressive and painterly surface the present work distinguishes it as among the very best from the series. Rendered in variegated hues of vibrant pinks, rich plums, umber, mauve, and sienna, The American Indian (Russell Means) echoes the palette of the rusty mesas and rugged landscape of the American West, making these particular impressions of Russell Means especially resonant. Executed in 1976, three years after the siege at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota brought the struggles of Native peoples into the forefront, a cause which activist Russell Means championed, the present portrait takes on a dual significance under Warhol’s watch—an emblem of a contemporary sociopolitical crisis and an American archetype with far-reaching cultural resonance— The American Indian (Russell Means) makes manifest Warhol’s profound contribution to the history of art. Means’ focused gaze and Warhol’s aestheticized mode of representation offer a time-capsule not only into 1970s popular culture but also into the longue durée of American history. Held in the same private collection for over forty years, the importance and global resonance of this work are emphasized by its exhibition internationally shortly after its production: notably, Geneva’s Musee d’art et d’histoire de Geneve from 1977-78 followed by Zurich’s Kunsthaus and Humblebaek’s Louisiana Museum in 1978.

ANDY WARHOL
Eva Mudocci (After Munch), 1984
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
50×38 inches (127 x 96.5 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 11 May 2022
USD 4,740,000

From the earliest days of his career, Andy Warhol had a strong appreciation for—and encyclopedic knowledge of—art history. Beginning in 1963 with his reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in a series of several paintings, the Pop artist would often return to the annals of visual art for source material. The highly-emotive Eva Mudocci (After Munch) is a prime example of Warhol’s interest in translating and digesting works by other artists through his own unique processes. He found himself drawn to the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch on more than one occasion, and the present work is a testament to Warhol’s ability to coax a radical mix of emotive vibrancy and machine-like precision from the famous original. He noted, “The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do” (A. Warhol, quoted in D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York 1995, p. 140).

ANDY WARHOL
Ryuichi Sakamoto
, 1984
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 11 March 2022
USD 630,000

Though he was born and educated in Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol spent the entirety of his adult life in vibrant and dazzling New York. Already notorious by the mid-1960s for his celebrity portraits, Warhol extended his repertoire of subjects to include the eminent figures of his adopted home city. From prominent art collectors, notorious individuals and public officials to his panoply of friends, including other artists, movie stars and society figures, Andy Warhol’s portraits idolized the who’s who of New York City. Modestly referring to himself as ‘just a travelling society painter’, Warhol’s innovative reinterpretation of portraiture is now hailed as having revived a dead art form. In the present work, Warhol applies his signature style and approach to the art historical category of portraiture to Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese composer, pianist and singer that rose to prominence in the late 1970s as a founding member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra band, considered influential and innovative in the genre of popular electronic music since that time. Pioneering the use of synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, computers, and digital recording, the group anticipated the astronomical rise in popularity of the genre in the 1980s. Sakamoto’s 1979 composition Technopolis is credited as a contribution to the development of techno music, and since the 1980s Sakamoto has also received acclaim and awards for his compositions of various film scores and interpretations within the field of classical music.

ANDY WARHOL
Sachiko Bower
, 1977
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 20 May 2022
USD 378,000

 

8. Flowers


 

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
82x 81.5 inches (207.6×207 cm)
USD 15,847,500

With its dazzling arrangement of four white blooms rendered on a spectacular 82 by 82 inch scale, Andy Warhol’s Flowers is a rare and majestic painting from one of the twentieth century’s most iconic bodies of work. Representing the largest square format within Warhol’s original 1964 series, it is one of just nine hand-embellished Flowers of this scale and crop recorded in the artist’s catalogue raisonné—two reside in the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, with a further example held in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D. C. The work was one of three of this size selected for Warhol’s historic show at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1964: a landmark, sell-out exhibition that would go on to become synonymous with the heyday of American Pop Art. Here, in bold, luminous tones, was an image that spoke to the beauty and tragedy of modern life: a thrilling encounter between humankind and nature, riddled with tantalizing Warholian enigma. The present work is the only example of its scale to feature four white flowers, gleaming brightly like beacons against their deep green roots. Other smaller works with this color scheme are held in collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Menil Collection, Houston.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
48 x 47.9 inches (121.9 x 121.6 cm)
Phillips New-York: 16 May 2022
USD 9,351,000

An exceptionally vibrant example from one of Andy Warhol’s most iconic series, Flowers radiates bursts of scarlet, cadmium red, and violet against a sea of emerald green. The present work, which was executed among his first Flowers in 1964, signaled a shift from his depictions of timely, instantly-recognizable branding to a more abstracted and timeless imagery—though, of course, still seizing source material mediated by popular culture and print magazines. Embracing a distinctive hyper-flatness that presaged Warhol’s later explorations in wallpaper, this body of work represented the culmination of his iconic Pop aesthetic before announcing his short-lived “retirement” from painting. Electric yet macabre, distinctive but mechanical, the Flowers marked a seminal chapter in Warhol’s career and are iconic relics of 20th century art history.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1965
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
22×22 inches (55.9 x 55.9 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 11 November 2021
USD 3,330,000

 

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1965
Acrylic, silkscreen ink and graphite on linen
8×8 inches (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2022
USD 529,200

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers
, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
8×8 inches (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 441,000

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
8×8 inches (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 403,200

ANDY WARHOL
Flowers, 1964
Silkscreen ink on linen
5×5 inches (12.7 x 12.7 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 9 March 2022
USD 302,400

 

9. Communism


ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Hammer and Sickle, 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
72×86 inches (182.9 x 218.4 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 17 November 2022
Estimated: USD 4,000,000 – 6,000,000
USD 4,380,000

Painted in 1976, Andy Warhol’s Hammer and Sickle is one of the artist’s most important creative statements of the 1970s. Mining popular culture, politics, and his uncanny ability to capture the social zeitgeist, the series built on his now iconic portraits of the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong that he had produced four years earlier. With a strong sense of irony, the present work depicts the two ubiquitous symbols of the Soviet Empire, a far cry from the society portraits of the rich and famous that had been one of his main concerns up to this point. How perverse and provocative Warhol must have felt dedicating a new series to the symbol of the Soviet Union and worldwide socialism, at the very height of the Cold War and communist paranoia.

Stylistically minimal, the most striking compositional aspect of Hammer and Sickle is the inversion of implements from their triumphal, raised positions on the Soviet Flag. In Hammer and Sickle they appear at rest, crossing at an arbitrary angle; the flat background field of color—a technique developed from his Skulls, painted the same year – emphasizes the object-like qualities of tangible hammer and sickle, as well as their unwieldy strangeness when related together in three dimensions. Much as the manipulated stacks of soup cans and bottles in his series of Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola paintings began to deconstruct and otherwise wear down the clear boundaries of a distinct commercial identity, to Warhol, the evacuated emblem of the hammer and sickle was an enticing sign that also benefited strangely from material manipulation.

ANDY WARHOL
Hammer and Sickle
, 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
72.2 x 86 inches (183.5 x 218.4 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 16 May 2022
USD 6,414,200

Hammer and Sickle from 1977 is among the most historically potent, culturally significant, and viscerally charged paintings from the inimitable oeuvre of Andy Warhol. Bristling with the explosive energy of communism’s universally recognizable motif, Warhol’s emphatic rendering of one of the twentieth century’s most iconic and emblematic symbols confronts the viewer with a provocative bravura that rivals that of the artist’s quintessential Pop images of Campbell’s Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroe, and the like. Remarking upon this tension in the Hammer and Sickle paintings, critic George Frei notes, “The present series takes a less direct and more complex stand by showing the logo of the American manufacturer and thus marking the tools as products of a free market economy. The representation takes a different tack: the once political emblem has been dismantled into its original components. As in a classical still life, the objects have no secrets, no ulterior meaning: a hammer is a hammer, a sickle is a sickle.

ANDY WARHOL
Mao, 1973
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
12.1 x 10 inches (30.7 x 25.5 cm)
Christie’s London: 28 February 2022
GBP 942,000

 

ANDY WARHOL
Lenin, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
22×16 inches (55.8 x 40.5cm)
Christie’s London: 1 March 2022
GBP 403,200

1917 was the year of the two Revolutions in Russia: in February, with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the disintegration of the Russian Empire and in October, when the Bolsheviks seized power, promising to build a socialist state. This led to the Russian Civil War, at the end of which the Red Army emerged victorious. In 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was founded. During these events, until his death in 1924, Vladimir Lenin was the undisputed political leader and founder of the one-party socialist state. Leninism was the dominant doctrine in Russia – a variant of Marxism which aimed for a proletarian dictatorship led by the Bolshevik party – and had been the driving force for the socio-political turnover.

Such a charismatic and powerful political figure could not but be appealing for Warhol, and Lenin became the subject of one of the last series of paintings and screen-prints created by the artist, in the year of his death in 1987. Seventy years from the Russian Revolution, Warhol used a photograph by Philipp Schönborn to transform the Russian leader into an icon of the 1980s. Unlike other icons ‘manipulated’ by the artist, the framework is here more minimal: Lenin’s face and lapel, in a bright orange/yellow, emerge from a broad scarlet red ‘sea’ – the symbolic color of the October Revolution and the Red Army, but also of the Red Terror, the campaign of repressions and executions carried out by the Bolsheviks during the Civil War. The leader’s silhouette is undefined, and the only other figurative detail appears on the bottom edge, where his forearm rests on a stack of books, to symbolize Lenin’s commitment as a theorist and intellectual.

10. Consumerism


 

 

ANDY WARHOL
Multicolor Retrospective (Reversal Series), 1979
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
50.4 x 63.7 inches (128 x 161.9 cm)
Phillips New-York: 18 May 2022
USD 3,748,750

Encompassing five of Andy Warhol’s most iconic motifs—Marilyn Monroe, Mao Zedong, the Mona Lisa, Campbell’s Soup Cans, and his Flowers—Multicolored Retrospective is emblematic of the uniquely personal reflection that defined the last decade of his life. Executed in 1979 during the height of his fame, Multicolored Retrospective disrupted Warhol’s expected seriality with its non-hierarchical, seemingly “collaged” surface in which his most-famous subjects, of diverse quantities, palettes, and sizes, converse in a post-modern visualization of “image overload.” The Retrospectives, which were a discrete subset of Warhol’s Reversals series (1979-1986), brought his oeuvre full circle: as his position was solidified as one of the most influential post-war artists, not even his own practice remained safe from his unceasing appropriation.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Three works: (i-iii) Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box, 1964
Silkscreen ink and house paint on plywood
(i, iii) 10 x 19 x 9.5 inches (25.4 x 48.3 x 24.1 cm)
(ii) 10 x 19 x 9.4 inches (25.4 x 48.3 x 23.8 cm)
Phillips New-York: 18 May 2022
USD 1,058,500

Emerging from Andy Warhol’s first important enterprise at the Factory, the present set of three Campbell’s Tomato Juice boxes belongs to the artist’s early box sculptures that came to define Pop art. Between March and April of 1964, Warhol executed about 100 iterations of his Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box, replicating the cardboard packaging used to ship the consumer staple that became Warhol’s most iconic subject. At once facsimile and original, the present sculptures situate themselves between Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and the hand-crafted qualities of Jasper Johns’ sculptural ale cans. Alongside six other branded box sculptures he produced, the Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box series was presented at the artist’s groundbreaking exhibition at the Stable Gallery, New York in April that year.

ANDY WARHOL
Blue Airmail Stamps, 1962
Acrylic on canvas
10.2 x 9 inches (26 x 22.9 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 16 May 2022
USD 1,320,500

Blue Airmail Stamps by Andy Warhol is one of a rare group of six early paintings from 1962, depicting sheets of US Mail stamps, that mark the very beginnings of the artistic enterprise that gave rise to the Pop art movement in the United States. Continuing the tradition of Marcel Duchamp, Warhol appropriated everyday imagery as the subject matter for his paintings. In a seismic break from the reigning school of Abstract Expressionism, Warhol restored representation and objective imagery to painting in the startling guise of common objects such as Campbell’s Soup Cans, comics, magazine advertisements and newspaper headlines. Blue Airmail Stamps is also an early declaration of another long-lasting cornerstone of Warhol’s aesthetic practice: seriality. Seeking a form of pure reproduction that was capable of multiple repetitions with great efficiency, Warhol experimented with various techniques to de-personalize the production of his artworks while endlessly repeating a single image. The perforated sheets of S&H Green Stamps and United States postal air mail stamps would prove to be ideal subjects for this endeavor.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Campbell’s Soup, 1986
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
72×60 inches (182.9 x 152.4 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2022
USD 1,008,000

ANDY WARHOL
Heinz Tomato Ketchup Box, 1964
Silkscreen ink and house paint on plywood
8.5 x 15.5 x 10.5 inches (21.6 x 39.4 x 26.7 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 8 May 2022
USD 478,800

Andy Warhol’s box sculptures are—in their purest sense—the most Pop of all his works. Taking his inspiration from the burgeoning American consumer culture, Warhol continued his replication of the bold and colorful graphics that he first produced with his Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s Soup cans but this time, instead of silkscreening the images onto canvas, he turned them into three-dimensional sculptural objects. Moving his images from the wall to the floor challenged the sanctity of the art gallery, and turned the space into something closer to a supermarket. Selecting brands for the quality of their graphic design as much as their iconic status, Warhol transformed seemingly every day object into classic Warhol works of art.

11. Dollar Sign


 

ANDY WARHOL
Dollar Sign
, 1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
10.1 x 8.1 inches (25.6 x 20.6 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 30 June 2022
GBP 567,000 / USD 687,715

Executed nearly two decades after the first of Warhol’s money paintings, the single Dollar Sign series of the early 1980s provides the ultimate expression of his lifelong fascination with consumerism. Like Warhol’s first Pop paintings which examined the relationship between big business and the common man through enlarged icons of consumerism like Coca Cola and Campbell’s Soup, Warhol here similarly takes the currency of this relationship and presents it with all the brazen euphoria synonymous with that decade. No longer taking the entire bill as their subject but instead focusing upon the unabashed icon of money – the isolated ‘$’ – Warhol hones in on arguably the biggest brand of all. One of the most recognizable logos anywhere in the world, the ‘$’ sign is simultaneously a symbol of the American Dream and an international denominator for wealth. Isolated on a rich lavender ground, the currency symbol takes on an almost totemic status. Pulsating through the saturated layer of pure colour, off-set multiple impressions of the ‘$’ motif in shades of red, orange, green and gold appear to throb against the background. Filling the entire height of the small-scale canvas, this oversized symbol of wealth is rendered with the immaculate clarity of Warhol’s perfected silkscreen technique. Money became an obsession for Warhol, and was perhaps his personal biography that drew him to the subject; the artist’s childhood was spent in depression-era Pittsburgh before fleeing to New York City.

 

ANDY WARHOL
Dollar Sign, 1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
20×16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 12 May 2022
USD 516,600

ANDY WARHOL
Dollar Sign
, 1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
10×8 inches (25.3 x 20 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong: 28 April 2022
HKD 3,654,000

ANDY WARHOL
Dollar Sign
, 1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
20×16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 927,500

Dollar Sign encapsulates Andy Warhol’s masterful practice of subverting and revitalising the symbols of consumerism within the Pop aesthetic. Counted among the most iconic series of Warhol’s seminal oeuvre, the present work is a testament to the artist’s career-long dissemination of cultural discourse. With Dollar Sign, Warhol delineates our societal relationship with the namesake motif in a vibrant statement of color. Amber and gold undulations caress the curves of the sleek shape of the S, paring down at the boundaries of the shape to give way to an imposing shade of race-car red. Collapsing the boundaries behind graphics and painting in Dollar Sign, Warhol utilises his prerogative as a cultural icon to address the interdependence of art with money. With astounding foresight, Warhol charges the ubiquitous symbol as both a barometer and a criticism of American culture – bridging the dichotomous gap between high and low art in a masterful archetype of social critique.

ANDY WARHOL
Dollar Sign,
1981
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
10×8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 13 May 2021
USD 478,800

Dollar Sign perfectly captures Andy Warhol’s extraordinary ability to appropriate, subvert, and reinvent the motifs of consumer culture using his inimitable Pop aesthetic. The present work was given as a gift to his friend and fellow artist Keith Haring in 1983, a testament to their respect for one another during the height of their stardom. Money became an obsession for Warhol: “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a… 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 money on the wall” (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, New York and London 1975, p. 180). Perhaps, it was Warhol’s personal biography that drew him to the subject; the artist’s childhood was spent in depression-era Pittsburgh before fleeing to New York City. Created in 1981, this series captures the zeitgeist of the 1980s, a decade in which financial wealth surged after the dispiriting economic recession of the 1970s. A combination of periwinkle, crimson red, soft pink, chartreuse, and gold, Warhol presents an equally painterly and graphic depiction of the American symbol of currency. A playful and colorful distillation of Warhol’s core artistic concerns, Dollar Sign mirrors the artist’s own transformation into an icon of contemporary art and international commercial success.