x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 August 2017

The original selfie: Warhol Self-Portrait sells for $7.8 million

Taken in the early 1960s, this work was of particular importance because it was one of the first so-called Self-Portraits that Warhol ever created 

A print from Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait series has sold for $7.8 million
A print from Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait series has sold for $7.8 million

“You know, people want to see you. Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame – they feed the imagination,” the legendary art dealer Ivan Karp is reported to have said to Andy Warhol.

Warhol went on to become one of the world’s most important self-portraitists, ranked alongside Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. And the enduring appeal of his work was reiterated this weekend, when one of his self portraits sold at a Sotheby’s auction for GBP6,008,750 (Dh28.65m). The piece was created when Warhol was 35 years old, and offered at auction for the first time exactly 30 years after the artist’s death in 1987.

Taken in the early 1960s, this work was of particular importance because it was one of the first so-called Self-Portraits that Warhol ever created. Up until this point, he had focused on luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor – but this series represented the moment when he stepped out from behind the camera and turned himself into a subject.

Self-Portrait is a series of nine works, each made to the same scale using silkscreen prints. The images themselves were taken in a New York photo booth.

“In the age of Instagram, Warhol’s fabled prediction that ‘in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ has never felt more prophetic, and the artist’s first self-portraits - created using a strip of photographs taken in a New York dime store photo-booth - have never felt more relevant to contemporary culture. This is a work of immense art historical importance that marks the watershed moment when Warhol joined the canon of the greatest self-portraitists,” says James Sevier, a senior specialist, contemporary art, Sotheby’s.