Mid-Century Art + Design - San Francisco

Prints, Paintings, Furniture, and other Mid-20th Century Artifacts. This blog will update our status and inventory. For questions or comments, please contact us at info@dustymodern.com. Or find us on twitter at @dustymodern. We like talking about this stuff.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thinking about Warhol

Sotheby's just sold an Andy Warhol Coke Bottle painting for $35 million. There's not much to say about this, other than to note that when an artist becomes a universal symbol (well, for an incredibly tiny universe, anyhow) for "culture" and simultaneously appeals to our senses of whimsy and simplicity - "it's a Coke bottle! What's to think about?" - finding bidders is probably easy.

I'm not a big Warhol fan. I often look at his work and think it was high concept at the time, but also hedged its bets - not just commenting on iconicity, but cynically and easily trading in it. You'll get more of us to buy when we have our own simple, transparent associations with your subject.

That said, I'm really happy to have this in my collection:

It's from the 1964 "One Cent Life" book and portfolio of prints. Like many of the prints, it's accompanied by a Walasse Ting poem (it's really Ting's book). Unlike a lot of the Warhol stuff I see that seems so dry and end-of-empire, this one gives us what seems like a bit of joie de vivre. This is an icon (that's Marilyn, right?) taken apart and trafficked in, but with careful composition and the excitement of contrasting color. Despite the disembodiment, this is lively.

The entire portfolio is pretty fascinating. It features - and occurs early in the maturation of - Pop Art (including prints by Lichtenstein, Dine, Indiana, and Ramos) but also makes a few nods to the previous decade's Abstract Expressionism (Mitchell, Francis, Van Velde). It is made up primarily of New York artists, but also includes folks from around the world.

I'm thinking of putting it on display at some point, but I'm not sure about the logistics.

Anyhow, to see some of the other prints in the portfolio, you can have a look here: