Christie’s International is shipping a 14-foot-high Andy Warhol “Mao” portrait to Hong Kong in search of a buyer, reports Bloomberg.
The silkscreen-on-canvas work, which will be displayed in the city’s main convention center May 22–29 as part of an exhibition dedicated to Warhol’s representations of the late communist leader, is expected to bring in up to $120 million in a private sale. Warhol’s auction record currently stands at $71.7 million, paid for Green Car Crash (1963) at Christie’s last May.
Christie’s is offering the “Mao,” one of Warhol’s largest and the only one in private hands, on behalf of an anonymous European seller. The other Mao portraits of this size are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. None has been shown outside of the West.
“It’s worth $120 million because it’s so rare,” said Ken Yeh, Christie’s deputy chairman in Asia.
The exhibition, “Mao by Andy Warhol,” which Christie’s organized in collaboration with New York’s L&M Arts gallery, will feature 15 portraits.
Christie’s expects the 14-foot Andy Warhol “Mao” it’s exhibiting in Hong Kong to fetch up to $120 million.
Hong Kong – Christie’s is honored to showcase one of the most important works from the Mao series by Andy Warhol and the most valuable work by Warhol to remain outside of a museum during its Hong Kong 2008 Spring Sales. The work will be displayed as part of an exhibition featuring portraits of Mao by Andy Warhol from May 22-29 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where Christie’s holds its sales and views.
“It is an honor and a unique opportunity to bring one of the most important paintings by Warhol to remain outside an institution to Christie’s in Hong Kong where the international art world will gather for our Spring Sales.” said Brett Gorvy, International Co-Head of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art. “Visitors will have a chance to view this extraordinary Mao in Asia for the very first time as part of a specially curated exhibition celebrating Warhol’s legendary series.”
Mao by Andy Warhol is a superlative work in every aspect. One of the finest and greatest examples from Warhol’s entire oeuvre, this magnificent, colossal Mao stuns viewers with its staggering size and wall-power. Over 14 feet high, the painting is one of four Giant Maos of these dimensions executed by the artist. The other three are in major American and European museum collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Never before has any of these paintings been displayed outside of the Western world.
Mao encompassed Warhol’s first major critically and commercially successful series following his premature “retirement” from painting in 1965 to pursue filmmaking. A near fatal shooting in 1968 led Warhol to reevaluate his career and artistic output and he began to execute commissioned celebrity portraits in the early 1970’s. The subject of Mao marks a turning point in the artist’s career and would begin a period of renewed growth. Warhol’s choice of subject also reflected the political developments of his day. In 1971, the People’s Republic of China replaced Nationalist China in the United Nations General Assembly and Securities Council and relations between China and the United States became less strained. In fact, it was Chairman Mao who was credited for encouraging President Nixon’s visit to China in February of 1972, the first by an American leader, with the visit easing Cold War tensions between the United States and China.
The subject of this work and its relevance to Chinese history makes it an important work to exhibit in Hong Kong given its proximity and ties to mainland China. Despite his radical policies, many people still see Mao as a figure of strength and unity. Warhol’s Mao represents the shift in cultural values that has taken place over the past decade and is therefore emblematic of the bridging of east and west.
A smaller portrait of Mao by Andy Warhol established a world auction record for the artist when it sold for US$17,376,000 in Christie’s New York Evening sale in November 2006. This record was surpassed in Christie’s May 2007 Evening Sale by Warhol’s Green Car Crash, which sold for US$71,720,000 and which remains a world auction record for any work by Warhol.
The exhibition “Mao by Andy Warhol” will feature 15 additional portraits depicting Mao by Warhol. Christie’s is collaborating with L&M Arts, New York, for the exhibition of “Mao by Andy Warhol.” L&M Arts were responsible for the first exhibition of Mao to take place in American in 2006. The exhibition and sale of the Giant Mao has been organized with the help of James Mayor, The Mayor Gallery, London.
warhol is one of the pioneers of pop art, a phenomenon that emerged in the 1950s. pop art is a form of art that employs imagery from everyday life, such as consumer products and famous people. titled “a is for andy”, this exhibition features 116 of warhol’s original paintings, worth US$15 million!
for those of you who may not be familiar with warhol, here are some examples of his more known pieces.
his famous silkscreen painting series of marilyn monroe, the epitome of beauty, was done 5 years after her untimely death. each of the prints has been called “an icon of an icon created by an icon”. this is also my personal favorite from warhol.
of course, who can forget his series of 32 campbell’s soup cans? each painting in the series features a unique flavor of campbell’s soup. why campbell’s soup? because warhol had it for lunch everyday for twenty years!
the exhibition has been open for private viewing for a week. one of the first paintings to be sold is this series of 10 paintings of the late chinese leader, mao zedong, in different colors.