Bonhams offer Warhol’s Chairman Mao

mao

Bonhams will lead the Post-War and Contemporary Art season with a spectacular Andy Warhol painting of Chairman Mao, estimated at £580,000-780,000, to be offered at New Bond Street on 29 June.

The stunning, densely-textured painting comes fresh to the market having originally been handled by the artist’s legendary dealer Leo Castelli in the 1970s. The distinctive coloration and clarity of composition makes this arguably the finest of the series ever to appear at auction. Renowned as one of Warhol’s most significant, signature images, the Mao paintings feature in many of the world’s most prestigious public and private collections worldwide.

Warhol was transfixed by the People’s Republic of China in 1971. ‘I have been reading so much about China,’ he said at the time. ‘The only picture they ever have is of Mao Zedong. It’s great. It looks like a silkscreen.’ Inspired, Warhol made his first picture of the communist leader the following year. The Mao series is based on a photograph taken from the cover of The Thoughts of Chairman Mao – otherwise known as the Little Red Book, of which almost a billion copies were printed in China, leading to an acute paper shortage during the Cultural Revolution. During the early seventies, Warhol used to carry the Little Red Book around in his pocket. Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol museum, describes the artist as ‘smitten with communism – with everyone wearing the same clothes and reading the same books’.

In the early 1970s, after a decade of screenprinting, Warhol returned to painting. His Maos tend to be more painterly than his earlier pop art, developing from the relentless replication of the 60s into more personalised, one-off works combining silkscreens with gestural painted additions. This particular piece has unusually thick impasto, with expressive brushwork in subtle blue hues and a halo of vivid scarlet interrupting the almost blinding vibrancy of the acid green background.

‘It is one of the finest – if not the finest – example of Warhol’s small format Maos out there,’ said Ralph Taylor, Senior Director for the Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art department. ‘It’s an absolute classic, brilliantly executed, with sterling provenance. Collectors who target the very best will find much to admire with this painting.’

Works depicting Chairman Mao appear to be the subject of growing demand in China. Last month a rare porcelain statue came on the market and is currently beng offered by Chinese Art in Scotland (www.chineseartinscotland.co.uk) for a six figure sum.

May auctions (26) Statue of Chairman Mao also on offer

Highlights of 2014 on ChineseArt.co.uk

As 2014 drew to a close, we selected some highlights of the year in the world of Chinese art here in the UK as reported on ChineseArt.co.uk.

January

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In January, we launched our now popular series of Unusual Chines Art Images. This magnificent oil painting (1910) by Matilda Auchinschloss Brownall of a viewer at The Morgan Collection in New York was featured as one of our early images.

January brought in The Year of the Horse.

lr scroll ,horse, pen & ink

Details of this painting (artist unknown) from Chinese Art in Scotland

February

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Xiao Wei and Yi Fei Li symbolise the new wave of adventurous fashion photography in modern China. Picture by Barrett Sweeger for Cream Magazine.

March

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March saw the tragic and mysterious loss of Malaysian airlines flight MH270 on a March 8 flight out of Singapore. There was a party of 19 Chinese artists, relatives and supporters on board, pictured above at their exhibition in the city state.

April

liu yiian and wife today

Shanghai businessman Liu Yiqian opens his third private museum in the city and shells out US$33.6 million for a tiny chicken cup

chicken cup press

May

Lucy Liu Olympic Fashion shoot 2008

We featured this stunning image of actress and model Lucy Liu, shot in 2008, Olympic Games year, for Harper’s Bazaar

June

£427,250 moment of sale

record breaking charger

A record £427,250 for Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull when they sold this blue and white charger, estimated at £2-3,000.

July

fio sangdeboeuf bowl

The Fiorentini collection of 30 pieces of porcelain was exposed for sale at Bonham’s, Edinburgh and took £105,000. This sang-de-boeuf bowl was knocked down for £11,250.

August

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Shanghai-based Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng appoints Paul Harris Asia Arts as his agents in the UK in advance of a series of exhibitions.

September

ai weiwei

Major UK exhibition for Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace

October

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The 17th Asian Art in London event opens. Our picture from an exhibition mounted by Michael Goedhuis of outstanding ink and watercolour paintings by Yang Yanping.

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November

woolley freys and cups freya

Woolley & Wallis Chinese expert Freya Yuan cradles the top selle, one of a pair of bowls which exceeded £420,000 from their £3.2m. November sale.

December

Royals Will and Kate visited New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was one Chinese picture they didn’t see . . .  Art critic Jerry Saltz posted it on Instagram and got booted off the site. We wonder why!

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Brought Christmas, as ever, but this Santa Claus print from Andy Warhol, offered by Artron in online auction, failed to find an owner.

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. . . and on to 2015. Happy New Year everyone!

Santa’s Reserve Not Met!

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There was bad news for Artnet, the online auctioneer, who failed to sell their seasonal Andy Warhol Santa Claus in the run-up to Christmas. Nevertheless, Santa was not discouraged and still made all his calls this Christmas night. If you want to brighten up Artnet’s Christmas, you could still fire off a bid . . . although you might be a little late to get it delivered by Santa Claus himself.

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987)

Santa Claus (from Myths), 1971
Lot ID: 105650
Screenprint with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board  38 х 38 in. (96.52 x 96.52 cm.)   Signed and numbered AP 28/30 in pencil

Edition of 200 (plus 30 artist’s proofs) Foundry/Publisher Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York

Estimate: 20,000—25,000 USD                                                                                   Number of Bids: 1 (reserve not met)

Warhol’s ‘Mao’ for sale at Art Basel Miami

As Art Basel Miami closed yesterday, Andy Warhol’s classic image of Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung was still for sale at $US15-18m., negotiable.

mao by warhol

Warhol completed a series of oil paintings of the Chinese leader shortly after President Nixon’s ground breaking visit to China in 1972. The paintings have increased in value dramatically in recent years. In the year 2000, one achieved £421,500. However, in February of this year auctioneers Sotheby’s sold one for £7.6m. A price in the region of US$15-18m. would not, of course, bring such a rapid escalation but might well see a growth of 10-20%.

The painting for sale at the moment is available from New York’s Acquavella Galleries.