Andy Warhol  (Estate) (American) Chanel from 'Ads 1985' screenprint, on Lennox Museum Board, signed
Lot 19
Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987) 'Chanel' from 'Ads 1985' (Feldman & Schellmann II 354) signed and numbered '181/190' in pencil, printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York,
Sold for £30,000 (US$ 50,372) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
(n/a) Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
'Chanel' from 'Ads 1985' (Feldman & Schellmann II 354)
signed and numbered '181/190' in pencil, printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York,
screenprint on Lennox Museum Board
96.5 x 96.5cm (38 x 38in).


  • Warhol’s political gift was his ability to take objective as art the defining images of the American consciousness – the images that expressed our desires, our fears, and what we as a commonality trusted and mistrusted’. (De Salvo)

    Initially Warhol’s brightly coloured and apparently simple images of soup cans, portraits of Marilyn Monroe and references to magazines seem superficial, banal and indeed kitsch. However the quotation above demonstrates how Warhol’s prints and paintings expose the complexities of the American psyche and cultural identity in the 20th Century and thus underlines their philosophical and psychological integrity, so justifying their place in the art historical canon. De Salvo writes,

    ‘Who would have known until he (Warhol) showed us the moral sublimatey of canned soup? Who would have acknowledged the domestic power of Brillo, that emblem of cleanliness and brightness, a metaphor for what one wants the world to be like, with shining kitchens and television sets in front of which the world’s children, warm and safe, sing the songs of innocence’.

    The world of advertising was one that Warhol was familiar with. During his early career he worked as a commercial illustrator for magazines such as ‘Vogue’, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, ‘Glamour’ and the ‘New York Times’. This experience filled Warhol with dismay at the lack of imagination exhibited by the magazine industry in relation to art. In 1986 he said ‘I used to work for the magazines and I always thought I was being original, and then they’d never want it. This is when I decided not to be imaginative’. In deciding ‘not to be imaginative’ Warhol produced iconic images from the mundane and made them resonate with a political and moral significance.

    ‘Chanel’ formed part of a series of ten screen prints entitled ‘Ads’. Commissioned in 1985 by Feldman Fine Arts, the series took commonplace but none the less iconic advertisements and elevated the product being marketed to the status of art. When viewed collectively, the series portrays the defining features of 1980s American culture – confident and consumer driven. Alongside ‘Chanel’ were advertisements for Apple, Life Savers, Mobil, Volkswagen Paramount, Blackglama (Judy Garland), Rebel without a Cause (James Dean), The New Spirit (Donald Duck), and Van Heusen (Ronald Reagan).

    In 'Chanel' Warhol deploys simple outlines and a limited range of colours to create a bold design. The impact of the piece is heightened by the uncomplicated composition which prevents any interruption or disturbance from other objects or colours. Despite the apparent simplicity of the work, it only emerged after drawings, paintings and trial proofs, thus demonstrating that Warhol strove to render the perfect composition through which he could transmit his political and psychological insights.

    The effectiveness of the composition in transmitting Warhol’s meaning is heightened by the medium he choose. The silkscreen print, a mechanical reproductive medium acted as a metaphor for the banality that lurked behind American commercialism. De Salvo writes ‘Warhol explores a reality that exists below the surface of perception. Mechanical, repetitive, ominous, Warhol’s imagery attempts to express the motif forces which underlie the perceivable world.’ As a result of the underlining criticism present in Warhol’s oeuvre, works such as ‘Chanel’ become modern day vanitas images, alerting viewers to their own mortality and the superficiality of consumerism.


    F. Feldman and J. Schellmann , 'Andy Warhol : prints : a catalogue raisonné 1962-1987', fourth edition revised and expanded by Frayda Feldman and Claudia Defendi 4th rev. ed, New York, in association with Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Edition Schellmann, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, 2003.

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