NEW YORK: Andy Warhol's iconic image of Mao Zedong, considered one of his
most sensational pieces of the 1970s, is being offered for sale by the
Swiss-based Daros Collection, owner of one of the greatest private holdings of
Warhol paintings, Christie's auction house has announced.
"This work has the most
prestigious provenance, staggering wall-power and is literally an icon of the
20th century," said Brett Gorvy, the head of post-war and contemporary art at
Andy Warhol's image of Mao Zedong and the official portrait
of the former leader. [China Daily]
on China's official portrait, Warhol's silk-screen portrait measures 206
centimetres by 155 centimetres and shows Mao in a dark blue jacket against a
light blue background.
It was set to be auctioned at Christie's Rockefeller Center galleries as part
of its evening sale of post-war and contemporary art yesterday. It was expected
to bring between US$8 million and US$12 million.
Warhol was not shy about cashing in on what he perceived to be the capitalist
collector's fascination with China and its leader.
"Andy Warhol was in love with fame," said Gorvy. "At the moment in history,
1971-72, it was the reopening of China to the West. China was creating new
relations with America. Nixon had gone over to China so Chairman Mao's image was
everywhere and Warhol captured that. He understood ... that it was famous not
just for that moment but famous forever."
The auction house said "Mao" constituted Warhol's first political portrait,
successfully paving the way for a number of other political portraits and
subjects including "Lenin" and "Hammer and Sickle."
"He chose Mao because he really was the most famous person in the world at
that particular moment," said Gorvy. "He wanted to represent him as he was
represented then all over China as this great icon."
The silk-screen image was derived from an official portrait of Mao on the
cover of a book entitled "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung."
It was one of a series of 10 large scale portraits Warhol made of Mao in
1972. Art experts consider "Mao" to be the best in the group.
Beside "Mao," the auction was to offer seven other Warhols from other private
collections, including "Orange Marilyn" (1962), depicting Marilyn Monroe, with a
presale estimate of US$10 million to US$15 million, and "Sixteen Jackies"
(1964), portraying Jacqueline Kennedy, with an estimate of US$12 million to
In May, an early iconoclastic work by Warhol of a Campbell's soup can titled,
"Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can (Pepper Pot)," sold for almost US$11.8 million