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Self Portrait (Green Camouflage)
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Sobre el objeto

Andy Warhol, Self Portrait (Green Camouflage)\nStamped with artist's signature, dated 1986 and authenticated by Frederick Hughes on the overlap\nAcrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas\n80 x 80 in. 203.2 x 203.2 cm.
US
NY, US
US

notes

As an artistic genre, self-portraiture by a painter is a traditionally evocative subject for critical study. When the artist is Warhol, the theme is especially rich since the slippage between public and private identity was a central motif in his art as in his life. In a world in which the saturation of media coverage turns a celebrity into a commodity as marketable and de-humanized as a can of soup, Warhol's radically innovative approach to subject matter and to artistic technique were ideal to investigate this phenomenon. Warhol, after all, embodied the dichotomy inherent in portraiture. He was shy and affected an introverted personality, but was nonetheless, a master at self-promotion.  He was the ultimate observer of others, adopting a voyeuristic personality, while also turning his observations upon himself with as much acuity. Throughout his life, Warhol created self-portraits even before the birth of his photo-silkscreen technique, and through the marriage of this method with his image, Warhol created the ideal genre for the comparison of the intimate with the universal. Self-Portrait (Green Camouflage) is the artist's ultimate statement on this conflict. Belonging to his 1986 self-portraits, the last before his untimely death, this painting encapsulates Warhol's attitude to the human contradiction of public persona versus private identity - we present an outer self to the world in the midst of hiding our inner self.

It was in the pivotal years of 1963-64 that Warhol first presented himself as a subject for his Pop art.  Renowned for his depictions of such media luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, Warhol's ambition was buoyed by the phenomenal success of his recent exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia which bestowed on him the same degree of celebrity status that he found so intriguing and captivating in those that he chose to depict. Warhol's renown included not only the revolutionary aspect of his Pop Art subjects and technique, but also the self-invented and intriguing public persona that he would now create during interviews and public events. The emergence of the Pop self-portraits chartered a turning point for Warhol: now, among the images of the rich and famous, he became an icon in his own visual repertoire, as deeply rich in the dichotomy between public and private as any of his other media ``stars''. From its inception however, his Pop self-portrait image is dead-pan, staring outwardly toward the viewer but adopting a blank expression. The early photo-booth images of a young man in t-shirt swiftly progressed to a young man in tie hiding his visage behind sunglasses and finally to the profile movie-star pose of the late 1960s self-portraits with chin in hand. Significantly a shadow crosses the artist's face in these later celebrity-style portraits, acknowledging the ironic nature of promotional portraits: we want to believe that we know famous personalities better the more we see images of them, yet we are actually witnessing a construct and a mediated image controlled to reveal or hide according to the sitter's wishes. No one relied more on this control - or delighted more in its duality - than Warhol.

The young man in a t-shirt is eventually transformed into the looming, anchorless head, with the extravagant `fright wig', which blankly stares out at the viewer once again in the 1986 series, including Self-Portrait (Green Camouflage). Yet much has happened in the artist's life, including his near-fatal shooting by Valerie Solanas in July 1968, and references to mortality are more obvious, particularly in the Self-portraits with a Skull of the late 1970s.  His later self-portraits may be seen as a means of quelling his own fears of death and, as a group, they catalogue not only his increased `superstar' status but also his physical transformation from young maverick to aged master.

The 1986 portrait is a powerful, punchy image that pulsates through its confrontational frontality. It is simultaneously flamboyant, eerie, shocking and wondrous to behold. These final self-portraits, including the present work, were first exhibited at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery in London in 1986 and the reaction was electrifying. Acknowledging the theme of death that runs beneath the surface of much of the artist's oeuvre, many viewers considered them memento mori. His cheeks appeared relatively sunken, and the wig further alienated his face, almost abstracting any sense of `self'.  As John Caldwell noted, ``The new painting, coming as it does twenty years after the last great self-portraits in the sixties, has by contrast with them a strange sense of absoluteness. Perhaps this comes in part from the fact that the artist's neck is invisible, or it may derive from the oddly lit nimbus of hair that seems posed forever over his head. Certainly, the portrait derives part of its power from the sense that we are being given a rare chance to witness the aging of an icon.'' (``A New Andy Warhol at the Carnegie'', Carnegie Magazine, Pittsburgh, January  - February 1987, p. 9)

With the addition of the patterned camouflage design, Self-Portrait (Green Camouflage) is transformed into an even more powerfully elegiac painting. Eerily prophetic of the artist's death in 1987, it may be the final puzzle in what was a gloriously puzzling life and body of work.  The visually dynamic portrait head is veiled in a pattern defined by its ability to conceal: Warhol's genius for irony is nowhere more dramatic than in the employment of disguise in the act of revelation. Linked conceptually with the Shadow and Rorschach paintings as abstractions, Warhol created canvases that were only camouflage patterns as well as using the device to mask portraits and other Warholian subjects such as the Last Supper paintings. In Self-Portrait (Green Camouflage), the ability of the camouflage pattern to deconstruct the underlying object is at its most powerful and poignant. Fading into the background, obscured and mysterious, Warhol is in the final analysis unknowable to us. The famous iconic face is part of our cultural lexicon, just as ubiquitous as Liz, Jackie and Marilyn, but the individual was never revealed.

medium

Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

creator

Andy Warhol

exhibited

London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits, 1986

dimensions

80 x 80 in. 203.2 x 203.2 cm.

provenance

Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London

Acquired by the present owner from the above in August 1989


*Tenga en cuenta que el precio no se recalcula al valor actual, es el precio final real en el momento que fue vendido.

*Tenga en cuenta que el precio no se recalcula al valor actual, es el precio final real en el momento que fue vendido.


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