Works by Warhol and Johns Lead Christies Sale of Prints and Multiples

Christie’s is pleased to announce the Prints and Multiples sale on October 27th and 28th. The two day sale is comprised of over 440 works with estimates ranging from $2,000 to $450,000.

Jasper JohnsOf the thirty Andy Warhol lots included in the sale, the highlight is “Flowers,” the complete set of ten screenprints in colors (estimate: $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 (estimate: $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’ 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, (estimate: $350,000–450,000) and “Flag” (pictured above right, estimate: $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” (estimate: $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. “Hell” foreshadows his later illusionist geometric compositions such as Whirlpools (estimate: $20,000-30,000), in which Escher creates an optical game through his use of repeating and receding shapes.

Image: Jasper Johns, Flags I (ULAE 128), Screenprint in colors, 1973, Estimate: $350,000 – 450,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2009.

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