Which one women is more famous? And if Marilyn Monroe is the successor of mona-lisa, Could Andy Warhol be the contemporary Leonardo da Vinci? These questions are pending as experts compare with the most popular painting in history a portrait of the enduring actress made in 1964 by the king of pop art, who today set the auction record for a 20th-century work of art.
Sold at Christie’s in New York for 195 million dollars. Blow Sage Blue Marilyn exceeded the 179.3 paid there also in 2015 by The women of Algiersfrom Pablo Picasso. and stayed in the second place for auctioned works from any periodrear Salvator Mundi a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci who raised $450.3 million in 2017 in the same auction house.
As on this occasion, the person in charge of lowering the hammer was the auctioneer and world chairman of Christie’s, Jussi Pylkkänen. From a packed house at Rockefeller Center, the auction was broadcast live to bidders and viewers around the world. It started shortly after 7:00 p.m. in New York and, like a lucky star, Marilyn kept waiting: lot 36A was only sold after 8:30 p.m., after several minutes of tension. According to the specialist journal Artnews, it was bought by gallery owner Larry Gagosian.who was present at the scene.
“Since the dawn of mankind, few works of art have truly reached the masterpiece level, an untouchable image that transcends time and space, a visual icon that outweighs the artist and his moment of creation, says Christie’s. Thanks to Andy Warhol, Marilyn is both the embodiment of the American dream as a universally recognized image engraved in the collective consciousness: the modern Mona Lisa”.
According to Alex Rotter, head of 20th and 21st century art at Christie’s, this work “encapsulates the optimism, fragility, celebrity and iconographyall at once”. “Next to Birth of Venus from Botticelli the mona-lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and The ladies of Avignon of Picasso -he adds-, Warhol’s Marilyn is categorically one of the greatest paintings of all time”.
Warhol was just beginning to experiment with screen printing when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom. in August 1962, in suspicious circumstances that he tries to clear up a documentary available on Netflix. Although they did not know each other personally, the artist found in the actress an icon who brought together his obsessions – the media, fame and death– and probably identified with his helplessness and his need for acceptance. By the end of that year, he had already made twenty paintings based on a publicity photograph of Marilyn from the film niagarafrom 1953.
These early depictions often showed the actress’ face in bright colors, with her features somewhat twisted. Two years later, using a more refined and time-consuming color application technique, he five portraits of Marilyn of almost perfect execution. Among them is the one that will be auctioned now, turned into an icon after Sam Hunter included it on the cover of his book Modern art: painting, sculpture, architecture.
“As an emblem of the American pop art movement, Marilyn represented Renaissance optimism and individuality, post-war fame and celebrity. –points to the Auction House-. And yet, 60 years after Monroe’s untimely death, Warhol’s image has become much more than the symbol of a single artistic movement. Marilyn is a masterpiece, without limits of time or place.”
As if that weren’t enough to “spice up” the sale, it’s a Philanthropic auction that could achieve the biggest turnover since the auction of the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, in 2018. Proceeds will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation in Zurich, where the piece originated after being owned by some of New York’s top gallerists. including the famous Leo Castelli, whom Marta Minujín turned to as soon as she arrived in New York in 1966. Thanks to him the Argentinian queen of pop met Warhol, with whom would I do a performance two decades later.
To this indisputable “pedigree” of origin is added the fact that the work has been exhibited in some of the most important institutions in the world, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, the Reina Sofía Art Center in Madrid and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, among others.
“Andy Warhol’s image of Marilyn, surely more famous now than the photograph on which it is based, speaks to the unbroken visual power of the new millennium,” said Georg Frei, president of the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, dedicated to life improvement. children all over the world. The dramatic portrait isolates the person and the star: Marilyn the woman is gone; the terrible circumstances of his life and death are forgotten. Only the enigmatic smile remains which connects it to another mysterious smile of a distinguished lady, the Mona Lisa.”.
Brothers Thomas and Doris Ammann founded in 1977 Thomas Ammann Fine Art, a historic gallery in Zurich representing impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary artists. That same year, they begin the process of collecting the works of the pop artist in their first catalog raisonné, and will participate in the publication of the first two volumes: Paintings and sculptures 1961-1963 Yes Paintings and sculptures 1964-1969.
“It was one of the most influential art spaces in Europe, loved and respected by the best collectors around the world – recalls Christie’s. With proceeds from the sale benefiting the foundation, the brothers’ legacy will continue their tradition of caring and generosity, impacting children’s lives for generations.”
Also they beauty archetypes touched all generations Throughout history. “Among the earliest surviving examples of the idealized female form are the powerful sandstone bust of the egyptian queen nefertiti (c. 1351-1334 BC) and Greek Venus of Milo (150-125 BC), long considered the embodiment of feminine grace – emphasizes the auction house. Overtime, goddesses and queens, members of the nobility, biblical characters and lovers of artists have joined the pantheon of muses in search of beauty. However, as the motion picture industry matured in the 20th century, the rise of celebrities hosted a new class of female icons artists to immortalize them.
In Marilyn’s melancholy gaze, Warhol found a fascinating combination of glamorous and tragic life. “The last great masterpiece to have stood the test of time, Warhol’s Marilyn is today a powerful symbol of ‘all women’ -concludes Christie’s-, from neglected orphan to dominant woman”. So dominating, that now presides over the record podium.