The God of the Art Market
On May 4th of twenty one years ago, art buyers across the world held their breath in excitement as they followed the results of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s New York. The auction totalled an astonishing $35.7 million, with Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn selling for almost three times its higher pre-sale estimate and more than four times the highest previous price paid for the artist.
Andy Warhol, Orange Marilyn (1964), silkscreen print, 50 x 40.5 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1998 for $17.3 million (pre-sale estimates $4,000,000 – $ 6,000,000)
As a giant of contemporary art and the most successful brand in the art market, Pop Art leader Andy Warhol (1928-1987) needs no introduction. His ravishing and hypnotic images of 1960s America’s celebrity and popular culture have influenced a whole generation of artists and keep fetching millions across the global art market. One only needs to think that between 1987 (the year of Warhol’s death) and 2010, average auction sales for his works have increased by 3,400%, with price tags ranging from $1,500 to $100 million. In 2014 alone the $569 million his works accumulated at auction accounted for more than a sixth of the global art market, as pointed out by various reports online. Moreover, the US art market media agency Baerfaxt revealed that Orange Marilyn may have been sold privately to financier and art collector Kenneth Griffith for $250 million in January 2018. If the rumors were true, Orange Marilyn would have just entered the top five of the most expensive artworks ever sold.
Beyond his disembodied images of public figures, Warhol repeatedly addressed themes of death, social unrest, and violence within the context of mass media visual culture. Through careful pictorial manipulation which includes expansion, isolation, bold recoloring, and cropping, Warhol took the canonical genre of flower still life into and turned into an ironic statement on the history of art. Above all, he was striving to create images that were enchantingly beautiful and glamorous. In their simplicity and recognizability, flowers also lent themselves well to Warhol’s signature silk print technique and to be reproduced in series. Warhol’s flowers are also melancholic. As with Marilyn’s portraits, they are ghostly silhouettes that lead us to reflect on the temporary nature of their beauty.
Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964, synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, (61 x 61 cm), sold at Christie’s New York in May 2018 for $ 2,112,500 (pre-sale estimates: $ 1,800,000 – $ 2,500,000)
The Kiku Series
Andy Warhol, Kiku Series, 1982-84, silkscreen prints, various dimensions.
The artist’s lifelong fascination with flowers brought the Gendai Hanga Center in Tokyo to ask him in 1982 to create a series of silkscreen prints based on the motif of the chrysanthemum (‘kiku’ in Japanese), a symbol of Japanese imperial power. This is how his series Kiku was born. Using his signature aesthetics of replication and colour-field patterning, Warhol painted precious golden silhouettes of two floating overlapping chrysanthemums slightly transposed at different angles against a bisected background of vibrant aquamarine and violet. The Kiku series contains all the elements of Warhol’s complex visual and conceptual vocabulary—the fascination with the fleeting nature of beauty, death, the vacuity of glamour, the play with forms, colors, and formats.
Andy Warhol, Kiku, 1984, silkscreen on paper.
ArtSquare.io is listing an exquisite original silkscreen from the series —market value €28,000 (£24,968/$ 31,683)—and selling 100% of it in the form of Digital Art Shares. We issued 28,000 art shares worth €1,00 each. Our community of Art Investors can buy them by signing up to ArtSquare, adding funds to their Wallet, and selecting any amount of Digital Art Shares in the Listing section of the artwork—and you can gift Digital Art Shares to your friends, too! Warhol’s Kiku is the first artwork in history to be entirely available for co-investment. But ArtSquare.io is primarily about giving you real-world experiences by allowing artworks to travel from one member of the community to the other through our Top Investor co-ownership system. But where is the artwork I am investing in located? It is magnificently displayed in the Florence branch of world-class art gallery Tornabuoni Art.
Sharing is the future of the art market, and we are ready to make it happen.