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Rubbish or Riches?

By Staff | Nov 26, 2014

© Estate of Andy Warhol, New York, NY

Has the owner of this week’s chosen object found Rubbish or Riches? Read on as I assess a graphic on paper by American Pop master, Andy Warhol (b. 1928 – d. 1987) from a private collection.

I was approached by Fred Daniello who had an Andy Warhol screen-print titled “Electric Chair 83” from 1971. He acquired the piece from an auction in New York City and was interested to learn more about the graphic and its value.

Andy Warhol is one of the founding artists of the Pop movement, which was a group of

artists that began to create artwork in the late 1950s and early 1960s that was derived from mass media, advertising and comic books. The movement was a reaction to its predecessor, Abstract Expressionism which was formed in the late 1940s. Robert Rauschenberg, along with other American masters including Jasper Johns and Larry Rivers are considered to be the grandfathers of Pop art and the bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop as a result of their incorporation of objects and articles from mass media similar to those used by the Pop artists.

Notable Pop artists included Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. Warhol entered the New York art world in the 1950s after relocating from his hometown of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Carnegie Mellon University in Advertising Design, which was a background that he was able to later apply to his artwork, much of which was rooted in press and advertising, incorporating subject matter such as Campbell’s Soup, images of celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as images somewhat more horrific such as those from his “Death and Disaster Series.” The image that I am discussing today is from the Death and Disaster Series which is among Warhol’s most coveted body of work. He began the series of paintings and prints in 1962 when he first used images from press and crime scene photos of suicides, plane crashes, car crashes and tragedy stricken public figures such as John F. Kennedy and Jaqueline Kennedy. In the image presented here, we see Warhol’s depiction of the Electric Chair which he first began to interpret in 1963, the year of the final two executions in New York State history at Sing Sing State Penitentiary; he continued to reinterpret the images until the early 1970s.

The piece to be assessed today is a screen print on paper by Andy Warhol from 1971 titled “Electric Chair 83” that measures 35 3/8 x 47 3/4 inches. The graphic is signed by Warhol on the verso (backside) and stamp numbered. It was published by Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich in collaboration with Warhol and was part of a suite of 10 images, each using the identical electric chair images only with different colors creating various moods and effects. Graphics from this edition are owned by the permanent collections of many museums around the world including the Tate in London and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The graphic is authenticated by Warhol scholars, Frayda Feldman and Jorg Schellmann and is referenced in their book, “Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne: 1962-1987,” page 79. While one of Andy Warhol’s large Death and Disaster Series paintings on canvas from 1963 sold at Sotheby’s auction house

in New York City for in excess of 105 million dollars in 2013, the question posed here is what is this graphic on paper worth? Graphics on paper by Andy Warhol with key imagery range in price from $5,000 to in excess of $500,000 each; I would place the value of this graphic at $35,000.

Do you have an artwork that you’ve always wanted to know the value and history of? Send it to Eric I. Hornak Spoutz at ericspoutz@gmail.com.

About the author:

Eric I. Hornak Spoutz is a nationally recognized Art Historian, Museum Exhibition Curator and the co-founder of Gallery 928 located at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village. Mr. Hornak Spoutz curated the 2013 Presidential Inaugural exhibition at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington D.C. and has placed artworks into the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Dartmouth College and a score of

other institutions throughout North America