Warhol Electric Chair artwork to headline Bonhams London auction

One of Andy Warhol's Electric Chair artworks could bring more than $8m when it crosses the block at Bonhams in London next month.

Fourteen Small Electric Chairs, created in 1980, will appear on the market for the first time in 20 years with an estimate of £4m-£6m ($5.8m-$8.7m).

Bonhams Warhol electric chair
 'It is incredible to stand in front of this piece," says Bonhams' Ralph Taylor

In the late 1970s, Warhol began a series of works which looked back on his earlier masterpieces. Entitled Reversals, the artworks featured re-interpretations of his most iconic subjects including Marilyn Monroe and the Mona Lisa.

As part of Reversals, Warhol also returned to the dark symbolism of his acclaimed late '60s Death and Disaster series, most notably the electric chair.

Fourteen Small Electric Chairs is one of the most significant works of this later series, a monumental canvas measuring over two metres tall.

"It is incredible to stand in front of this piece," said Ralph Taylor, Bonhams' senior director of post-war and contemporary art.

"Warhol's transformation of the electric chair motif into a striking abstract pattern encrypts the implications of the original image. The longer you look at it, the more its significance slowly dawns, gaining force from its very discretion.

"For me, this ironic twist is closely tied to an intense impression of Warhol's personal self-reflection as an artist. It is so rare to come across such a historic icon of post-war and contemporary art outside museums."

Many of Warhol's Electric Chair artworks are owned by institutions, including the Guggenheim in New York and the Menil Collection in Houston.

The Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale takes place at New Bond Street on February 11.

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