Christie’s Evening Sale offers 36 works by leading artists of the 20th century on May 9 might be historic.
Headlining the sale is the iconic Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol — poised to be the most expensive 20th century work to sell at auction. The estimate is “upon request” but the word is that it will sell for upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars.
But why is it called Shot Sage Blue Marilyn?
Warhol painted a few portraits of Monroe following her death. Each was painted on a background of different colors.
The story goes that performance artist Dorothy Podber saw the paintings stacked against one another in the studio and asked Warhol if she could “shoot” them.
Warhol thought she meant “photograph” them. But instead Podber pulled a gun from her purse and fired into the stack of paintings. The fifth painting, with the turquoise background, was not in the stack escaping damage.
The bullet holes on the other four works were repaired.
Gay Swiss art dealer Thomas Ammann bought the painting (for an undisclosed amount) in the early 80s.
Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, said the work is the
most significant 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation.
Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American Dream encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity and iconography all at once.”
Warhol himself said,
I don’t feel I’m representing the main sex symbols of our time in some of my pictures, such as Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor.
I just see Monroe as just another person. As for whether it’s symbolical to paint Monroe in such violent colors: it’s beauty, and she’s beautiful, and if something’s beautiful, it’s pretty colors, that’s all.”
The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann is the first of two live auctions. Doris and Thomas were siblings and cofounders of Thomas Ammann Fine Art. Throughout their lives, the brother-sister duo were leaders in the art world.