Estimate: US$12,000,000 - US$18,000,000
Price realised: US$13,522,500
Andy Warhol Mao 1973 silkscreen ink and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 50 x 42 in. (127 x 106.7 cm) Stamped by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board and numbered A115.969 along the overlap.
Provenance Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Ace Gallery, Vancouver Ira and Adele Yellin, Los Angeles Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York Private Collection Exhibited Paris, Musée Galliera, Andy Warhol: Mao, February 23 – March 18, 1974 Chicago, Hokin Gallery, Andy Warhol, September 9 – O ctober 11, 1977 New York, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Andy Warhol: Thirty Are Better Than One, May 3 – June 14, 1997 New York, L&M Arts, Andy Warhol: Mao, September 7 - O ctober 7, 2006 Literature G. Battcock, “Andy Warhol: New Predications for Art,” in Arts Magazine, May 1974, p. 37 (illustrated) M. Livingstone, Pop Art, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, 1990 (illustrated) G. Frei and N. Printz, The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne; Paintings and Sculpture 1970- 1974, New York, 2002, p. 204, no. 2297 (illustrated) Video ANDY WARHOL Mao, 1973 Contemporary art specialist and Head of the Evening Sale, Zach Miner, presents Andy Warhol's 'Mao', 1973. Though it would be tempting to appreciate this work only for its beautiful tones and rich textural variations, it is impossible to ignore Warhol's acerbic political commentary resulting from the coloring of the picture. Warhol exploits the received American idea of Red Terror to the benefit of painting's visual impact. In addition to the explicit coloring of his clothing, Warhol covers Mao's face in what appears to be make-up, reminiscent of his famous Liz and Marilyn paintings. Warhol's portrait contains as much scathing cultural criticism as it does painterly innovation. Catalogue Essay If Warhol can be regarded as an artist of strategy, his choice of Mao as a subject—as the ultimate star—was brilliant. (K. McShine, Andy Warhol Retrospective, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989, p. 19) The late 1960s brought a hiatus to Andy Warhol’s career as a painter. Since Valerie Solanas’ assassination attempt in 1968, Warhol suffered from acute health problems due the destructive path of Solanas’ bullet. Exhausted and frustrated with the physical demands of generating work in the Factory, Warhol turned to filmmaking for a number of years, predominantly producing commissioned portraits. Yet, Warhol’s particular artistic bravery would prove undeterred by symbols of Eastern terror and destruction. Warhol painted again. The resulting pictures signaled a new path for him, one paved with expression and reinforced with political irreverence. In Mao, 1973, we see Warhol’s second coming, fresh as his first. Warhol spent much of the 1960s utilizing ready-made portraits of celebrities for silkscreens, sourcing them from newspapers, magazines, and other media. However, his broader concern would envelope the concept of celebrity in its purest form, visible in his creative gravitation toward actresses of great repute (Monroe, Taylor) or fashion icons in American culture (Jacqueline Kennedy). Warhol occasionally dabbled in portrayals of destruction as well, finding the media to be an endless fountain of iconic and tragic events to choose from. Conversely, Warhol secluded himself from politics, preferring the glamor and glitter of distraction. In addition, Warhol’s paintings of the 1960s tended not to extend beyond the boundaries of America itself—each was a study of a definitively American phenomenon. Meanwhile, Mao Tse-Tung’s execution of the Cultural Revolution had profound consequences for the artistic and intellectual life of China. Mao’s slogan of “Destroy the Old World, forge the New World”, had a particular resonance for Chinese artists and intellectuals, as most faced imprisonment or death at the hand of Mao’s policies. As America increased its political exchange with China, especially after China achieved status as a nuclear power in 1967, cultural exchange increased as well. Suddenly Chairman Mao was a highly recognizable figure to the average American, his deceptively good-natured smile donning Communist propaganda pamphlets that appeared with regularity on the evening news. In particular, copies of Mao’s
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