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Andy Warhol Red Self Portrait The Controversy Continues - ArtLyst Article image

Andy Warhol Red Self Portrait The Controversy Continues

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For many years a controversy has been brewing in the art world over a 1964 series of ten self portraits of the artist, Andy Warhol. The portraits are not self-portraits anymore, they're just portraits not by Warhol, despite being signed by him, so declares the Warhol foundation.

Let me clarify the situation: Warhol's Red Self Portraits have been  de-attributed by The Warhol Foundation, the New York-based body that authentics Warhols estate and beyond. Clearly there are a lot of Warhol forgeries floating around in the art world and let's face it, but this series not only appears on the cover of a well distributed monograph on the artist and has a number of serious provenances by conemporaries of Warhol.

Lets face it, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons do not execute their own work.With Warhol there is also the the issue of “who” actually painted the work or who pulled the screens for the serigraphs. In the 1960s it was just as likely to be studio assistants Gerard Malanga or Billy Name as Warhol himself. In the 1970s, it would have likely been Ronnie Cutrone. Everyone knows that when Warhol produced work at his “Factory” it was with a mechanical process, done by others and only supervised by the artist, who for the most part, only touched his pieces to sign them. This is a fairly well-established fact! (Malanga has long held that he painted the electric chairs series and few would dispute this claim).

However, due to a set of criteria that I find difficult to fully understand (read more about it below) somehow, someway this rather well-known Warhol self portrait became persona non grata to the Warhol Foundation and the owners are fighting back at what they consider an arbitrary and unjustifiable call, rendering once incredibly valuable-and signed!-Warhols absolutely worthless.

From The New York Review of Books “What is an Andy Warhol?” by Richard Dorment:

    One picture in the series, now owned by the London collector Anthony d'Offay, is signed and dated by Warhol, and dedicated in his own handwriting to his longtime business partner, the Zurich-based art dealer Bruno Bischofberger (“To Bruno B Andy Warhol 1969”). Since the Renaissance, a signature is the way artists such as Mantegna and Titian acknowledge the authenticity of their work.

    As if this were not enough to authenticate the work, the Bischofberger self-portrait appeared in Rainer Crone's 1970 catalogue raisonne of Warhol's work and is reproduced in color on the jacket. Crone is a highly respected independent scholar who worked closely with Warhol over a two-year period to compile this catalogue raisonne . Anthony d'Offay, who was Warhol's dealer in London, writes in his statement about the “Bruno B Self-Portrait”:

The foundation is not doing themselves any favours by creating controversy and much has been written in the press about this quite frankly astounding Warhol Foundation error of judgement.

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