A portrait of former Soviet Union leader and father of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin, by American pop artist Andy Warhol, will be a highlight at Bonhams Prints sale on November 19 in London's New Bond Street.
'Lenin' (1987), a screen print in colours on Arches 88, signed and inscribed 'PP 1/6' in pencil, is estimated at a value of £50,000-70,000. This printer's proof, aside from the edition of 120, was printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, with his blindstamp, and published by Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich. The full sheet measures 1000 x 749mm (39 3/8 x 29 1/2in).
In a Prints sale that provides a narrative of the Rise of Pop, Warhol's 'Lenin' takes the leading role—he's the protagonist of our Pop-based show. 'Lenin' is simple, verging on minimalistic. Warhol presents his sitter as an artificial construct staring bleakly out of a black void. Here he is, the former leader of the Soviet Union, naked and exposed.
It's an eerie portrait, and its haunting aura is what makes it so poignant. Flashes of vivid colour—a reddy skin tone for face and hand, a stark white shirt collar and cuff, occasional outlines in bright blue, and a couple of licks of canary yellow—are emblazoned over a black background. Lenin's isolated face, vivid yet ghost-like, stares wild-eyed directly at the viewer—imposing and inescapable, just try to avoid catching his gaze.
'Lenin', both a portrait and an icon, is one of the great Pop images of the 20th Century.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com