Estimate: US$700,000 - US$900,000
Price realised: US$602,500
Andy Warhol Ads Painting (Rebel Without a Cause [James Dean]) 1985 Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. 22 x 22 in. (55.9 x 55.9 cm). Signed, dated “Andy Warhol 85” stamped by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board and numbered “A125.076” on the overlap. This work is accompanied by a letter of authentication from the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc.
Provenance Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York; Private Collector, Wisconsin; Museum Works, Aspen Catalogue Essay James Dean is not our hero because he was perfect, but because he so perfectly represented the damaged but beautiful soul of his time. Andy Warhol in Interview Magazine While his meteoric assumption to fame was Andy Warhol’s ultimate art act, celebrity itself was an obsession that consumed Warhol during his early childhood in industrial Pittsburgh. The son of blue-collar Slovak immigrants, Warhol revered famous icons of popular culture and was fascinated by the American phenomenon of the superstar. His early work in advertising and illustration was fed by his interest in material consumed at a mass scale, and would continue to drive his rapidly developing art toward the concept of fame itself. From childhood, Warhol believed in the myth of stardom. His attraction to the persona of the youthful and famous motivates some of the first sikscreen paintings… Warhol’s identification with them is twofold, both as objects of desire and as role models…. But it was when the Disasters’ theme of death coincided with his fascination with stardom and beauty that Warhol found the subjects of his best-known groups of celebrity portraits… The ironic implication of doomed beauty produced a number of strong, memorable paintings. K. McShine, Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, New York, 1989, p. 17 Lust, premature glory, and eminent disaster are all reoccurring themes in Warhol’s silkscreens, most notably in his portraits of movie stars whose stories were rooted in tragedy. Idols of Hollywood, such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, were so overexposed through popular media that their lives became public property: giving themselves to fame meant relinquishing rights to their private personas. Warhol sought to capture the vastness of their stardom and their ubiquity as characters occupied by public fantasy, by angling a spotlight on their commodity-like exhibition in print media. Warhol was innately attuned to the inevitable arch of fame over time, casting a critical eye on the struggle to reconcile declining vitality with an heroic image of the past. James Dean’s acting when he gets old is the worst thing. But they did a good thing—when he’s drunk and talking into the microphone it’s like a rock star, he’s right on top of the microphone and it’s just noises coming out and it’s so abstract. Andy Warhol in The Andy Warhol Diaries, New York, 1989, p. 354 The engine of silver screen populist propaganda was a guidebook to Warhol’s dissection of fame and its shadows, and he carefully sifted through commercial material for the iconic images he appropriated. The present lot is a vibrant silkscreen based on a Japanese poster advertising the film Rebel Without a Cause. Appropriating a foreign image of an American treasure, Warhol captures the globalism of stardom and pop culture, redelivering a classic, historic image with a fresh energy. At once celebratory and cynical, the work embodies the loneliness of celebrity and the dynamism of a life shortened by its availability to society. So I got home and I watched Rebel Without a Cause, and gee, it was so strange to see Sal Mineo looking like a baby, just a real baby, and James Dean and Dennis Hopper look like grown men. You can’t figure out what this young thing is doing with them, and yet they’re all supposed to be the same age. And James Dean looked so modern—the jeans and the Lacoste shirt and the red windbreaker, and leaning over with no underwear showing. Andy Warhol, Ibid, p. 480 Read More Artist Bio Andy Warhol American • 1928 - 1987 A seminal figure in the Pop Art movement of the early 1960s, Andy Warhol's paintings and screenprints are iconic beyond the scope of Art History, having become universal signifiers of an age. An early career in commercial illustration led to Warhol's appropriation of imagery from American popular culture and insistent concern with the superficial wonder of permanent comm
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