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54 1/4 x 28 in. 137.8 x 71.2 cm.
signed, dedicated and dated To Jay 62 on the overlap
acrylic, silkscreen ink and pencil on canvas
Executed in September 1962, this painting is stamped by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board and numbered A.129.9511.
Jay Shriver, New York (a gift from the artist)
Richard Hines, New York
Barbara Divver, New York
Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles
Vivian Horan, New York
William J. Hokin, Chicago
Donald J. Christal, Los Angeles
Christie's, New York, November 21, 1996, lot 179
Acquired by the present owner from the above
New York, Vrej Baghoomian Gallery, Cars, 1988, no. 31
New York, Vrej Baghoomian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Genesis of an Installation, April 1988, cat. no. 31, illustrated
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Toward the Future: Contemporary Art in Context, May - July 1990
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Drawings and Related Works 1951-1986, February - March 2003, p. 81, illustrated in color
"Deus Ex Machina," Harper's Bazaar, vol. 96, no. 3012, November 1962, p. 156 and 159, illustrated
John Coplans, Andy Warhol, New York, 1970, p. 75, illustrated
John Wilcock and a Cast of Thousands, The Auto-Biography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol, New York, 1971, illustrated
George Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One: Paintings and Sculpture 1961-1963, New York, 2002, cat. no. 221, p. 197, illustrated
In November 1962 Harper's Bazaar featured "Deus Ex Machina", a glossy four page spread in their magazine celebrating Andy Warhol, using the car as a symbol of the American consumerism he addressed in his art. The present work, Avanti Cars was featured in the article's illustrations. Commissioned by the magazine to execute a total of nine works to appear in the feature, revolving around the car theme, the objective was clearly stated across the top of the page: "Commissioned... to make a visual comment on the phenomenon of the American motorcar, Andy Warhol, continuing his experimentation in "commonism", or the art of giving the familiar a supra-familiarity, made the nine oil paintings on these and the two preceding pages" (George Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One: Paintings and Sculpture 1961-1963, New York, 2002, p. 221). Also included in the illustrations were paintings of serial images of the original glass Coca-Cola bottles and other cars such as Cadillacs, Pontiacs and Lincolns. The works were stacked against each other as if in a montage and photographed by Eric Pollitzer at Warhol's studio at 1342 Lexington Avenue for the article. Warhol and Pollitzer's system of composing these pictures by arranging them leaning on top of one another in an apparently laissez-faire fashion is a hallmark of photographs made in the artists' studio.
Avanti Cars is a racy and stylish representation of one of America's most coveted possessions -- the sports car. Executed in the Pop Art movement's seminal year of 1962, Warhol's great achievement at the time was the development of the silkscreen technique as a means of composing paintings of repeated imagery. The subject was consistent with Warhol's fascination with American consumerism and its packaging as it addressed both 'high' and 'low' culture.
The original Avanti car was introduced in America in 1962 and stood as a symbol of glamour and sophistication, displaying a new edgy state-of-the art design. However, the undeniable fact remained that the Avanti car was in actuality, made of plastic and was a mass produced American commodity. If Warhol had chosen to create an image of the single car, it would not have the pictorial impact of the present work in which he decided to repeat the image sixteen times. The seriality of the image practically acts as a mirror of consumerism, reflecting the reality of mass production. With little variation in color, the composition is sleek and classic and is dependent solely on tonal qualities of the grey scale. In some areas, the blacks appear dark and inky and in others, light and grainy -- revealing the variable process of the newly invented silkscreen that Warhol pioneered. Warhol intentionally placed his screens with slightly unevenness and allowed for different gradations in the pressure of the ink screening, as these details alluded to a handmade touch that is a trademark of the early works.
Later, Warhol would inscribe the painting as a gift to his friend and studio assistant, Jay Shriver. Jay worked with Warhol in the 80s at the Factory and was involved in the Guns and Knives series, as well as helping produce "Andy Warhol's TV". Avanti Cars stands as one of Warhol's earliest silkscreens which is at once clever and sexy, illustrating through repeated imagery a mirror of the commercial outside world. The double column composition would be used to similar effect in the silkscreening of one of his most direct references to American consumerism, the dollar bill, as in Two Dollar Bills (Backs) from the same year of 1962.