Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: Pop Art

October 15, 2019

While Pop art is most closely associated with the ‘common’ images that populate our environment and often unconsciously enter our visual lexicon, our October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction features works by Sturtevant, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein that reflect more critically on the nature of this artistic input/output process. 

Interested in the systems that drive modern art production, Elaine Sturtevant (known professionally as Sturtevant) began creating ‘works of works’ in 1964. These ‘repetitions’ examine the cultural function and “stylistic branding” of their seminal references, calling into question the value of the art object. By replicating and thus reinforcing the familiar signifiers of prominent artists, such Andy Warhol’s Marilyns and Roy Lichtenstein’s uneasy comic-style heroines, Sturtevant sought to complicate her viewers’ automatic response to the original images. Attracted to source works that themselves elicited strong and at times even violent reactions, Warhol’s Marilyn presented a prime target for Sturtevant’s manipulation. Described as a “feedback loop” of Pop art’s concern with celebrity, iconicity, and gender, the efficacy of Sturtevant’s Marilyn series lies in the artist’s reenactment of Warhol’s own process of reiteration. As Warhol’s original series had taken up America’s fetisization of Marilyn Monroe’s demise and the “hollowing out” of the fated starlet’s identity through her over-exposure, so Sturtevant considered the same hollowing out of both Warhol’s Marilyn image and his own artistic persona through over-distribution. 

The works by Andy Warhol included our upcoming auction seemingly enter into direct dialogue with Sturtevant’s work. Both Flowers (Lot 102) and the original Marilyn image featured on Marilyn (Castelli Graphics Invitation) (Lot 104) figured heavily in Sturtevant’s early ‘repetitions.’  Warhol’s self portrait, The Shadow (Lot 101) from his 1981 series Myths, however goes further in addressing some of the same questions that Sturtevant had raised regarding the artist’s own social stature and legacy. Placing himself among icons such as Mickey Mouse and Superman, Warhol casts his own image as an imaginary idol. While Warhol assigns himself the role of the 1930s pulp detective, The Shadow, the image is primarily one of Warhol’s own likenesses. Like his portrayal of Margret Hamilton as “The Witch” and even more so of Greta Garbo generically as “The Star,” audience recognition and association supersedes the true identity of the subject, rendering the ‘Warhol character” a work of complete fiction. 

Inspired by a futile attempt to photograph a Rauschenberg print that was under glass, Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections series features appropriated images interrupted by streaks of light reflecting off of their imagined glass covers. Lichtenstein originally intended for Reflections to be a photographic series of “fairly well-known works under glass” but, according to the artist himself, he was “not much of a photographer” and turned to painting. The resulting works took on a more abstract character, mobilizing Lichtenstein’s iconic rendition of benday dots. Reflections on a Conversation (from Reflections) (Lot 105) in particular, figures a panel from a 1964 comic book, “Falling in Love,” though Lichtenstein replaced the second woman in the original image with a man. While offering only a cryptic argument on the materiality of art, Lichtenstein’s series can be read as a commentary on the, by then, common Pop art practice of quoting and ‘lifting’ images found in mass media. Seeing as the series includes Lichtenstein’s appropriation of some of his prior works, the artist seems to cheekily gesture at the extent to which his own images had saturated popular culture. 


Lot 100
Study for Warhol’s Marilyn
Acrylic and screenprint inks on canvas
Signed, titled, and dated canvas verso
20″ x 16.125″; (51 x 41 cm)
LAMA would like to thank Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac and the Sturtevant Estate for their assistance in confirming this work.
Together with books Sturtevant: The Brutal Truth (2004); Sturtevant–Drawing Double Reversal (2014); Under the Sign of [SIC]: Sturtevant’s Volte-Face (2013); Sturtevant: Push and Shove (2005) (2); and Sturtevant: Double Trouble (2014)
Provenance: Private Collection, Houston, Texas; Private Collection (acquired directly from the above, c. 1977)

Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000
October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 101
Andy Warhol
The Shadow (From Myths)
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
#3 of 5 E.P. aside from the edition of 200
Published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York; printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York
Signed with edition lower right edge of sheet; retains printer’s blind stamp lower right
Image/sheet: 38″ x 38″; Frame: 43.875″ x 43.875″; (Image/sheet: 97 x 97 cm)
F/S #II.267
Literature: Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné. 4th ed. F. Feldman and J. Schellmann. 2003. #II.267.

Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000
October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 102
Andy Warhol
Offset lithograph on paper
From an edition of approximately 300
Published by Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; printed by Total Color, New York
Signed and dated in black ink lower right margin beneath image; retains Adele Bednarz Galleries label frame verso
Image: 22″ x 22″; Sheet: 23″ x 23″; (Image: 56 x 56 cm)
F/S #II.6
Together with frame
Literature: Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné. 4th ed. F. Feldman and J. Schellmann. 2003. #II.6.

Estimate: $12,000 – $18,000
October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 104
Andy Warhol
Marilyn (Castelli Graphics Invitation)
Offset color lithograph on wove paper
Published by Castelli Graphics, New York; printed by Colour Editions, Inc., New York
Signed in black felt-tip marker along right edge of sheet
Sheet: 12″ x 12″; (Sheet: 30 x 30 cm)
Not in F/S

Estimate: $7,000 – $10,000
October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 105
Roy Lichtenstein
Reflections on a Conversation
Lithograph, screenprint, woodcut, and metalized PVC collage with embossing on mold-made Somerset paper
#25 of 68
Published and printed by Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mt. Kisco
Signed and dated with edition in graphite lower center right margin beneath image; retains Tyler Graphics blind stamp lower right edge of sheet
Image: 47.125″ x 60.75″; Sheet: 53.875: x 67″; Frame: 58″ x 71.125″; (Image: 120 x 154 cm)
Literature: The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948-1993. 1st ed. M. Corlett. 1994. #240.

Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
October 20, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

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