Our Modern & Contemporary specialists discuss their favorite works from our upcoming Prints & Multiples sale, taking place online and live in Dallas on April 10.
Director, Modern & Contemporary Art
Christopher Wool is best known for his word paintings that focus on language as image, as well as photographs, prints, artist’s books and sculpture. Wool began to create word paintings in the late 1980s, after seeing graffiti on a brand new white truck. Using a system of alliteration, with the words often broken up by a grid system, his word paintings often demand the audience to reading each piece aloud to make sense. This auction features three iconic silkscreens from his early Black Book series. With the majority of the artist’s top auction records set since 2016, these works are a wonderful opportunity to collect one of today’s most coveted contemporary artists.
A political activist as well as an artist, Jenny Holzer uses text and truisms to call attention to social injustice and explore the human psyche. Her work has often been mistaken for advertising, and appeared on billboards, monumental light projects and LED signs, as in Amber Truisms Living, which is available in the present auction. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a work by an artist who has influenced contemporary art so dramatically.
Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)
Amber Truisms Living, 2008
Semi-circular electronic LED sign: amber diodes, electro-polish aluminum housing with seamless light filter
Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000
Many artists were inspired by their predecessors and Warhol and Picasso were no different. Both artists borrowed from art history to create works in their own distinctive style. For instance, Picasso turned to Manet’s scandalous dejeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) again and again for inspiration. According to MoMA, between 1940 and 1960 he made 27 paintings, 150 drawings, 18 maquettes, and 5 prints referencing the work. Similarly, Warhol reimagined several works by Edward Munch. In 1984, he transformed “The Scream,” “Madonna,” “The Brooch,” Self-Portrait,” and “Eva Mudocci” into his own artistic masterpieces. Eva Mudocci is a particularly suitable subject for Warhol given his predilection for celebrity female portraiture. A well-known musician in her own day, Warhol gives Eva the same Pop celebrity status as Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, and Jackie Kennedy.
I have always loved Andy Warhol trial proof works. They are interesting for a number of reasons. Originally, these works were part of Warhol’s creative selection process for determining which color variation would be used in the final work in each series. Therefore, for a portfolio like the Cowboys and Indians, of which this work is a part of, Warhol made thirty-six different variations of this image in different color patterns and then choose a different one to be reproduced into an edition of 250. So while this work was not chosen, it is an entirely unique color way and is one of a kind. This is a particularly great trial proof because its colors are very different to the regular edition; the reds and blues are quite strong and complement each other nicely. Many trial proofs were very experimental and included multiples colors or patterns, the simplicity of the two opposing color narratives are what appeals most to me in this work. Because Warhol’s painting and printmaking processes were so similar, many say that these trial proofs are the equivalent of unique works on paper that other artists may have used as preparatory sketches or to develop the visual language they hoped to achieve in the final work.
Like Warhol’s trial proofs, I enjoy works that discuss the artist’s process. In 6 Lithographs (after ‘Untitled 1975’), Jasper Johns gives the viewer a rare opportunity to understand and view the progression in his painting process and how it led up to his final composition. Coincidentally the original painting that the portfolio was derived from is on view at The Broad in Los Angeles. Eli and Edythe Broad acquired the work shortly after it was created and it only recently became available for public view. As a result, for many years, the portfolios in circulation served as the only visible remnants of this composition. As with many artists who put out portfolios, keeping them together gets harder and harder over time. I am very excited that Heritage is offering this complete portfolio. It will be the first time it has been offered together at auction in recent memory.
Jacqueline au Bandeau represents everything one could want in a Picasso work. It is a portrait of Jacqueline, the last love of Picasso’s life, who inspired many of the masterpieces created in the last two decades of his career. The work is a linocut, a medium that both prior to and since, has never been used as prolifically or famously by any other artist. The composition created with a simple color palate and clean line work underscores the artists’ masterly of both. Picasso created this work in 1962, the year after Picasso and Jacqueline were married, while they were still newlyweds, and their affection for each other was strongest. The most prominent feature in the work and the one, which draws us in, are Jacqueline’s eyes. John Richardson wrote “The brilliant series of portraits that record Jacqueline’s triumphant rise as Picasso’s maîtresse-en-titre reveal not only the splendors but also the miseries of her new role. Picasso and Jacqueline were more or less the same height (5 feet 4 inches), and they could easily be mistaken for father and daughter in that they both had strikingly larger features, notably very large eyes. […] In his portraits of Jacqueline, Picasso often gave her his eyes – enormously magnified, but nonetheless submissive; infinitely loving, but sometimes sick or scared’ (J. Richardson in Picasso, The Mediterranean Years, 1945-1962 (exhibition catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, London, 2010, pp. 29 & 33).”
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Jacqueline au bandeau de face (Grand tête de femme), 1962
Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
Shepard Fairey’s Flag combines the wheat paste collage style of his widely-recognized outdoor murals with the fine detailing of his earlier HPMs (hand-painted multiples). A collection of symbols composes the stars on this re-imagined American flag, engaging with institutional authority, American nationalism and the undercurrents of counter culture. In this politically inspired image, the artist explores the graphic possibilities of the American flag as well as its power to both inspire passion and insight unity. A version of this work was featured in the artist’s first solo exhibition at the ICA Boston. From a small edition of only twelve and with the all the attention Fairey has received recently, it’s exciting to be able to offer this work in our sale.
Harland Miller explores the relationship between words and images, often using the Penguin motif to produce striking work which combines elements of pop art, abstraction, and figurative painting. The covers that Miller depicts are tattered and dog-eared, and the titles range from nostalgic to hilarious, from poignant to sarcastic and in some cases a bit melancholic. Harland Miller’s popularity is at an all-time high and because this series sold out in 2011, it is sure to capture attention.
Harland Miller (b. 1964)
Death, What’s In It For Me?, 2011
Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000
James Siena creates complex abstract works based on a series of self-imposed constraints which he refers to as “visual algorithms”. These rules result in work that feature intensely compressed, freehand, geometric patterns. This set of three prints is a wonderful example of his work and shows the remarkable visual quality that comes from his approach. Siena has exhibited at over 100 shows worldwide including the 2004 Whitney Biennial and appeared in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hammer Museum at UCLA, and the Yale University Art Gallery. Recognized as one of today’s most influential contemporary artists who has strong institutional support, it is thrilling to be able to offer this work at a very reasonable price.