Warhol's $150k 'black Monroe' leads Christie's sale

The Christie's Prints and Multiples sale will take place on October 27 and 28 over two days, comprised of over 440 works with estimates ranging from $2,000 to $450,000.

The sale encompasses a selection of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary prints with several works from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco that are being sold to benefit the acquisitions fund.

Highlights include works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Henri Matisse, M.C. Escher, and Marc Chagall.

Of the 30 Andy Warhol lots included in the sale, the highlight is Flowers, the complete set of ten screenprints in colours, estimated at $250,000-350,000.

Warhol first started using the flower motif in the mid-sixties as an invitation to one of his popular gallery openings. He returned to the same composition throughout his career and it has remained one of his most desirable subjects.

The screenprint known as 'the black' Marilyn is another celebrated Warhol IMAGE_and a fine example is included in the sale, estimated at $100,000-150,000.

After Marilyn Monroe's untimely death in 1962, Warhol frequently depicted the star as seen in a photograph originally taken to promote the 1953 movie Niagara. In doing so, Warhol underscores the tragedy of Monroe's celebrity by parodying the popular consumption of her IMAGE_that many believe led to her demise.

Jasper Johns' Flag I
Jasper Johns' Flag I ($350,000–450,000)

Jasper Johns' work has centered on the use of universally recognizable motifs. The sale includes two examples of his exploration of the stars and stripes: Flag I, is one of his most vibrant and arresting depictions, estimated at $350,000-450,000) and Flag, estimated $40,000-60,000 from the artists' Lead Reliefs series of 1969.

The lead relief method was unprecedented in the history of printmaking. Johns began the arduous process by creating a plaster model that was then converted into an epoxy mold. Soft sheet lead was flattened into the surface of the mold, creating a relief multiple.

The resulting work - half sculpture and half IMAGE_- displays a surface in constant flux due to the unique properties of its lead surface.

M.C. Escher's market has remained strong and the Prints and Multiples sale offers six outstanding examples of his graphic work. Hell, estimated at $30,000-40,000, is inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's 15th century painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.

In this early work, Escher reconfigures Bosch's exploration of the underworld by crafting nonsensical relationships between figures and space.

M.C. Escher's Whirlpools
M.C. Escher's Whirlpools ($20,000-30,000)

Hell foreshadows his later illusionist geometric compositions such as Whirlpools, estimated at $20,000-30,000, in which Escher creates an optical game through his use of repeating and receding shapes.

La Danse by Henri Matisse is a rare example of the artist's colour print work, consigned by the Children of J. Irwin and Xena S. Miller. 

The etching from 1935-36 relates to the three major paintings of the subject executed some twenty years earlier and it is a prime example of the artist's skill in combining form, movement and color to achieve a distinctly modern tone.

The sale offers a rare opportunity to acquire Marc Chagall's late series of The Fourteen Large Lithographs of 1980.

Offered here for the first time in their entirety, these large scale and vibrant works represent a late flourish in the artist's graphic work, and are consequently very sought after by collectors.

Scenes such as La Joie, estimated at $50,000-70,000, and Dans le Ciel de l'Opéra, estimated at $35,000-45,000 display a concentration of the artists rich iconography of lovers and circus players, set against the backdrop of the Paris skyline lit with warm saturated color.

The auction takes place on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 October 2009, with prior viewings on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 October, 10am-5pm; Sunday 25 October, 1pm-5pm; and Monday 26 October, 10am-12pm.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock