An early hand painted Andy Warhol Coca-Cola bottle is going under the hammer at Christie’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in New York. Carrying an estimate of $40,000,000-60,000,000, Coca Cola (3) has resided within the same private collection for almost two decades, and has been featured prominently in every major Warhol exhibition. It will be on view to the public in London from October 12th to the 18th, as part of the preview of New York Post-War and Contemporary Art highlights and will be sold at Rockefeller Plaza on November 12th. Painted in 1962, not only is Coca-Cola (3) a unique hand-painted picture — not a silkscreen — its subject has become the epitome of Pop. Warhol paints his monumental bottle of Coca-Cola as tall as a human, its dramatic black and white contours creating an instantaneous impact.
“At a time when international top collectors are looking for blue-chip masterpieces, nothing is more iconic than the remarkable hand-painted Coca-Cola by the master of Pop Art, Andy Warhol. Coca Cola (3) is one of the artist’s earliest works which defines the Pop generation. This museum quality work has been in one of the most important Warhol collections for almost two decades”, declared Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art. “Christie’s evening sale in November will offer a unique dialogue between two masters of Pop, Andy Warhol with Coca-Cola (3) and Jeff Koons, with his Balloon Dog (Orange). Two different generations of Pop artists standing side by side; Andy Warhol is the father of everything we know about Pop Art and Jeff Koons is his anointed successor. Both create objects which are totally universal and loved by the public, truly POPular in that sense”, he added.
Coca-Cola (3) is a large, sleekly executed, black and white and human-scaled portrait of the famously curvaceous Coca-Cola bottle. Painted in early 1962, it is the cool aesthetic, the impersonal, almost mechanical means of representation and the stand-alone nature of this commonplace consumer product on the blank canvas that so distinguishes this work. It would soon joins the Warholian pantheon of famous names and brands; this stark, simple, elegant and towering form of an instantly recognizable commodity and its famous logo is one that stands firmly alongside that of the Campbell’s Soup Can or the portraits of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe as a quintessential icon of America and the Twentieth Century.
An enduring symbol of the United States as a whole, the Coca-Cola bottle is a fascinating, if also troubling, icon of modern mass-consumerist culture. The most recognizable brand in the world, Coca-Cola is a symbol as resonant and contentious today in our globalized age of corporation culture and what has even been termed the ‘Cocacolonisation’ of the world, as it was at the height of the ‘Mad-Men’ era of the early 1960s when the young advertising illustrator and aspiring artist Andrew Warhola first made it. Coca Cola (3) is an historic work and as Warhol’s memoirs of the 1960s attest, the story of its genesis is also the story of the beginnings of Pop art in America.
“I feel I represent the U.S. in my art but I’m not a social critic. I just paint those things in my paintings because those are the things I know best. I’m not trying to criticize the U.S. in any way, not show up any ugliness at all. I’m just a pure artist I guess.” Andy Warhol.
Christie’s New York POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART EVENING SALE 12 November 2013