Andy Warhol’s name immediately evokes some of modern art’s most famous works, from his Campbell’s soup cans to portraits of 20th-century icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. However, long before Warhol pioneered pop art, he was just another art student named Andrew Warhola at Carnegie Institute of Technology.
On November 15, Phillips New York is offering two very rare works completed by Warhol when he was just 20 in 1948, a year before his graduation.
Probably the artist’s earliest self-portrait, Nosepicker I: Why Pick Me (The Lord Gave Me My Face But I Can Pick My Own Nose)shows the blond artist sticking a finger up his nose.
The playful painting, which was rejected by the annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh exhibition for being too “offensive,” shows Warhol’s early disrespect for supposedly good taste in art. This could be taken as a prediction of the audacity with which the artist would revolutionize what might be called art. It is estimated at $250,000 to $450,000.
It is also one of the first examples of the “blotted line” technique that Warhol experimented with early in his career under the influence of his classmates Ben Shahn and Paul Klee. This fundamental method of printmaking could be seen as a precursor to the artist’s later obsession with screenprints.
Another work completed as a commission for Warhol’s imaging major, living room ($300,000 to $500,000) is a charming study born in response to the exercise of creating an imaginary living space that manages to tell the story of its occupants.
He based his Dawing on his parents’ own living room and merged his highly personal reality with invented elements. The work was therefore associated with a kind of identity construction that would soon reinvent the artist as Andy Warhol.
The two works, which will appear in Phillips’ 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, were previously owned by the Warhola Family Collection, which has recently attempted to sell some other works from the 1940s.
“They have brought my siblings and I immense joy over the decades,” Warhol’s nephew James Warhola said in a statement about the two paintings. “Having been exhibited all over the world – from Pittsburgh to Paris – it’s been wonderful to see people resonate with them.”
“You mediate [Warhol’s] Ambitions as a young art student to become a visual artist,” he continued. “I always say, ‘Before there was a soup can, there was this nose pick.‘”
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