There are moments when the art market seems to believe in its propaganda. One such moment is Christie’s auction house in New York comparing Andy Warhol’s color print “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” to the Mona Lisa. In order to be able to recall a 1964 Warhol edition with an estimated price of $200 million, the superlatives are not stingy in product advertising. Christie’s uses the rather odd-looking maximum increment formula for “ikonisch” as “most famous” as well as other hard-to-increase attributes such as “cool”, “rare” and “famous” – either for the image or for the artist.
Of course, for the value of the “most famous” case, you need an unbeatable price. If the silkscreen print reaches its estimated value at auction on Monday evening, it will be the highest auction price for a 20th century artwork, and Marilyn’s blue painting will be the second most expensive picture ever auctioned. Only the Salvator Mundi, falsely attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also bought at Christie’s for $450 million in 2017 and is said to be cruising on his yacht today, has brought in more.
Warhol noted that the more you look at the same thing, “the better and more empty you feel”
Christie’s headlines have been recounted with stunning reviews around the world in recent weeks. Almost no article has asked how such artistic, historical and financial value is determined, and whether it is justified even in this market distorted by irrational greedy values. The assertion that this particular Marilyn is the Mona Lisa of the twentieth century, and thus a separate super-privileged category in the artistic aura market, deserves some objections.
While the Mona Lisa only exists once, but in print there are millions of copies for a few dollars, the screen printing of Marilyn Monroe created by Andy Warhol in The Factory in 1964 has been a series from the start. Four more variations in other color combinations were produced in the same work process based on a promotional image for the movie “Niagara”. But as early as 1962, the year the successful and sad movie actress died, Warhol created “Marilyn Diptych” with the idea, which is now stored in the Tate Gallery warehouse in London. In the same year he put the likeness on a golden background. Beginning in 1967 Warhol created other variants of the same idea with his printing company Factory Additions, such as the ten-part Portfolio, which hangs today in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Christie probably meant “most famous” this form of icon reproduction in the precinct of the Orthodox Church, where all believers have one hanging in the house. Because Marilyn Warhol of course is also available as a reprint for everyone, in the spirit of the inventor. America’s most famous artist, according to Christie’s, had a firm opinion about artistic repetition, which he practiced excessively with Marilyn, but as a seller, it is better not to pass it on to clients if you want $200 million from them: “The more often you look at the same thing, More meaning disappears, and you feel better and more empty.”
In 1964, Dorothy Podber shot Marilyn in the forehead. Does this justify the price?
So, if there is no plausible reason why a blue Marilyn is the Mona Lisa of our time, and not an orange, pink, or gold one, the desire to have this Warhol-factory printed product is likely to be due to an act unless the violence that occurred in the Christie’s auction ad. Unsuccessful performer Dorothy Podber made her 15-minute fame famous by shooting a small pistol at four prints leaning against a wall at the factory in 1964. The bullet pierced all the Monroes in the front, which is why the samples were given the series title “Shot Marilyn” .
But even this work of multiple portraits of the head, which seems more terrifying than usual as an incentive to buy during the war in Ukraine, does not justify claiming the absolute unique personality of a single idea, calling it “one of the greatest paintings of all time” and as a “unique opportunity” at a price He actually paid for the Marilyn oranges in particular. And that’s even though it’s not even a “panel”. But this will not interest anyone involved in betting. And the arguments could not prevent Mohammed bin Salman from buying “Leonardo”, which until then was considered more like a workshop work, which has since been confirmed in the official downgrading of the scientist to the category of “Leonardo is made”. The main thing is that the price is high enough to reflect your ego.
The purpose of the auction is something positive about the questionable transformation of a series item into an event of the century. Along with over a hundred works from the Swiss private collection of Thomas and Doris Amann, which will go up for sale over the two auction days of May 9 and 13, Marilyn’s blue-sage shot is circulating to promote the education of children and young adults. The Thomas and Doris Amann Foundation, which after the death of the Zurich gallery owners at Christie’s sold their artworks to the highest bidder — including paintings by Martin Kippenberger, Sigmar Polk, Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat — for a minimum value of $350 million. Calculate the bounce. Although there are experts, in light of the auctioneer’s massive iconic publicity, even speculating that Warhol’s dozens of items in Sage alone could become the most expensive painting, sorry: screen printing of all time.