Warhol Electric Chair artwork to headline Bonhams London auction

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2016-01-11 15:57:00

An iconic 'Electric Chair' artwork by Andy Warhol will headline a forthcoming Contemporary Art sale in London.

Bonhams will offer Fourteen Small Electric Chairs as one of the standout lots of its Post-War and Contemporary Art sale next month.

Warhol initially began using the electric chair as a motif during the 1960s as part of his acclaimed 'Death and Disaster' series, which aimed to capture the violent side of the American Dream.

For him, the electric chair was as much an icon as a dollar bill, the Coca-Cola sign or Marilyn Monroe's face – all images he had repeatedly used throughout his work. But having explored the great American themes of celebrity, money and advertising, he turned his attentions to one of the most prevalent themes in the history of art - death.

Two decades later, Warhol returned to some of his most famous works in a series he called 'Reversals'. He re-appropriated his own masterpieces, often combining them or creating negative images in different colour schemes, as a comment on his own fame and success.

The series included a reimagining of works from the death and Disaster series, such as the monumental canvas offered at Bonhams, Fourteen Small Electric Chairs, which is expected to sell for £4-£6 million ($5.82-$8.73 million).

“It is incredible to stand in front of this piece,” said Ralph Taylor, Bonhams Senior Director of Post-War and Contemporary Art. “Warhol’s transformation of the electric chair motif into a striking abstract pattern encrypts the implications of the original image. The longer you look at it, the more its significance slowly dawns, gaining force from its very discretion.

"For me, this ironic twist is closely tied to an intense impression of Warhol’s personal self-reflection as an artist. It is so rare to come across such a historic icon of post-war and contemporary art outside museums.”

The Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale takes place in London on Thursday, February 11.

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