Warhol, Andy. (1928–1987) [Essay by Robert Rosenblum, Edited by David Whitney]: Andy Warhol, Portraits of the 70s - SIGNED AND WITH AN ORIGINAL SIGNED POLAROID
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A very special example of the 1979 stated First Edition softcover, signed and inscribed in bold black ink to the half title "To Paul from Andy Warhol," and including an original polaroid photograph by Warhol of the recipient, photographer Paul McMahon, signed in black ink by Warhol to the lower margin and also sold together also with an original small format black and white photograph of Warhol by Paul McMahon, taken at a 1980 book signing appearance by the artist and signed "Photo by Paul McMahon" to verso. The book, Square 8vo. 141 pp. Slight handling stains to edges, glue stain to inner front gutter, else fine. The photographs, each approx. 4¼ x 3 3/8 in. (10.8 x 8.6 cm) and both in fine condition.
The book's autograph dedicatee and subject of the included original Warhol photograph is Paul McMahon, a critic, photographer and artist who worked for more than 13 years touring with Marlene Dietrich as the icon’s stage manager, announcer, dresser, secretary and escort, and later spent 25 years as an arts and entertainment reviewer and photographer with Gay Community News, Esplanade, Tommy’s Connection, The Mirror, Bay Windows and other publications. Warhol did not generally sign his polaroids and we have located sales records of only a dozen of authentically signed examples at auction or in the market in the past 20 years. Most recently, a similarly signed polaroid of Warhol shown in the identical outfit, likely from the same event, sold at auction in Italy (Farsetti, 28 November, 2015) for $23,000.00. The present set is of particular and unusual further interest as it includes not only a portrait BY Warhol of a photographer, but a portrait OF Warhol by the same photographer.
One of the most important photobooks ever published, this volume features 112 Warhol portraits of prominent celebrities, socialites, and cultural leaders of the 1970s, including Liza Minnelli, Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, Yves Saint Laurent, and David Hockney, and includes a catalogue essay by art critic Robert Rosenblum, who describes Warhol's portraits as “capturing an incredible range of psychological insights among his sitters.” Based on the November 1979-January 1980 exhibition at New York's Whitney Museum, this body of work went in a whole new direction from his iconic creations of the 1960s: “there [was] this major difference: whereas the earlier work was very neat and precise in execution (the Brillo box had, after all, to look like a Brillo box), the new work [had] a very slapdash look. This, as they say, [was] no accident. In the 60's it was important for artists of the Pop school not to appear to have any affinity with Abstract Expressionism, but in the 70's — such [were] the vicissitudes of taste—it was O.K. again for paintings to look smeary and ‘unfinished’...” (New York Times).
“With Warhol’s gallery of contemporary faces, the decade of 1970s high society is instantly captured. In this glittering realm, light and shadow are bleached out by the high wattage of spotlights; colors seem selected from the likes of Baskin-Robbins; and brushstrokes offer an extravagant, upper-income virtuosity which appears to be quoting, for conspicuous consumption, a bravura tradition that extends from Hals through de Kooning....By accepting the photograph directly into the domain of pictorial art, not as an external memory prop for the handmade re-creation of reality but as the actual base for the image on canvas, Warhol was able to grasp instantly a whole new visual and moral network of modern life that tells us not only about the way we can switch from artificial color to artificial black-and-white on our TV sets but also about the way we could switch just as quickly from a movie commercial to footage of the Vietnam war. For Warhol, the journalistic medium of photography, already a counterfeit experience of the world out there is doubly counterfeit in its translation to the realm of art.” (Robert Rosenblum).