Andy Warhol’s Six Self Portraits (1986) will lead Christie’s post-war and contemporary art sale in London on March 6.
The set consists of six silk-screen renderings of Warhol’s iconic “fright wig” image, produced just a few months before his death.
Each of the 22 x 22 inch canvases is tinted a different colour. The effect is arresting and eerie, with Warhol’s haggard face leering out from the gloom.
British art dealer Anthony d’Offay was behind the commission.
He’d been transfixed by Warhol’s portrait of Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys and suggested Warhol produce a self-portrait of similar intensity.
D’Offay considered Warhol’s first attempt too dark, complaining of “a demonic aspect”, and asked Warhol to remake the series using the present image.
Christie’s explains: “Few of Warhol’s original silkscreen groupings remain intact, rendering the present work exceptional.
“Within a practice punctuated with complex self-portraits, the ‘fright wigs’ are widely considered to represent Warhol’s most deeply personal revelations.
“They are stark, rarefied exposures of an artist who ultimately became a greater cultural icon than his most famous celebrity muses.”
In 2016, a large single canvas from this series sold for $24.4m at Sotheby’s. The estimate for the present lot has not been revealed, but is likely to be considerably higher.
Jean Michel Basquiat, a friend and protege of Warhol, is also featured.
His Multiflavors is painted on an improvised canvas, held together with crudely constructed supports. Basquiat started out his career painting on found materials and liked to reference that early aesthetic in his work.