The self-portrait, which recently sold at Sotheby’s for $7.7 million, was one of the first ten self-portraits that Warhol ever created. Renowned up to this point for his candid depictions of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Liz Taylor, a dealer friend encouraged Warhol to explore his own image explaining that many found his persona and his look as interesting as his artwork.
Warhol obtained the source photograph of this self-portrait from a New York City photo-booth. The use of such unconventional source material was, at this time, completely innovative, having himself just pioneered the use of silkscreen printing in art a couple of years previously.
Warhol also used this new medium to create portraits of many celebrities including Ethel Scull – the New York collector. The resultant painting of Scull is now one of the most celebrated works of Warhol’s early career. Scull described how, to create it, Warhol had taken her to a seedy amusement arcade on 42nd Street: “We were running from one booth to another, and he took all these pictures and they were drying all over the place… I was so pleased.”
More than any artist before him, Warhol’s image, identity, and constructed public persona, were inextricably bound to his art. His self-portraits became the richest and most fertile means for his own self-invention. Starting with this portrait, he turned himself into an icon – as flat, shallow, and immediately identifiable as Elvis, Marilyn, or Liz.
See prints and original works of art by Andy Warhol for sale at Gallery Art