Following its successful run at the London gallery, Skarstedt is pleased to announce that Andy Warhol: The Late Paintings, the exhibition of late works by the artist, will premiere in New York on May 10th and will be open until June 24, 2023, with an expanded checklist. Presenting 10 paintings executed between 1976 and 1986, the exhibition highlights iconic series which came to define the final and one of the most prolific decades of the artist’s oeuvre. The exhibition features large-scale works from The American Indian, Hammer and Sickle, Oxidation, Diamond Dust Shoes, Knives, Eggs, Zeitgeist, Dollar Sign, Myths, and Reversal series, revealing Warhol’s renewed interest in painting in the late 1970s and ‘80s, as well as his continued preoccupation with the notions of disappearance and ephemerality of human existence.
Having announced his departure from painting in favor of movie-making in 1965, Warhol returned to the medium in the early 1970s, embarking on a period of experimentation with the subject matter and the process of painting itself. In The American Indian (Russell Means) (1976), the features of the sitter, a renowned leader of the American Indian Movement, are described with painterly strokes, which Warhol made with his fingers in a dramatic introduction of the artist’s hand into his artistic process. Deliberately conflating a painterly gesture and mechanical reproduction, Warhol engages in a dialogue with the history of expressionist painting, the approach also evident in the Hammer and Sickle executed in the same year.
Begun in 1977, the Oxidation series also on view here marked a seismic shift in Warhol’s visual language, simultaneously heralding his exploration of abstraction in later works. With a network of patinated marks corroded by urine on copper paint, Oxidation (1977-78) makes an ironic reference to color field painting and Jackson Pollock’s paint drips, whilst presenting a surface of almost sublime complexity evocative of rugged landscapes or cosmic formations.
Newly added to the New York iteration of the exhibition, Dollar Sign (1981) sees Warhol returning to one of his earliest and most iconic subjects—a sense of retrospection that pervaded his output during the 1980s. The painterly manner in which this ubiquitous symbol appears in later works, however, evinces his renewed interest in the medium and his musings on the shifting nature of American consumerism in a decade marked by excess. Joseph Beuys (Reversal) (1983), like the Oxidation painting, engages with art history as Warhol pays homage to an artist he greatly respected. Calling forth the celebrity portraits of the 1960s, the repetition of Beuys’s stern face elevates his already high status as one of the most preeminent European artists of his generation while continuing the use of seriality so crucial in Warhol’s earlier works. It furthermore underscores both artists’ positions as masterful craftsmen of their own personas and the ways in which they revealed themselves through explorations of the political and mystical—traits which Warhol no doubt admired in his contemporary.
Fusing popular imagery with subtle existential enquiry, Warhol’s late works in the exhibition reveal the unwavering interrogation of the medium as well as previously concealed aspects of his private and spiritual life, highlighting the significance of the late period in the artist’s oeuvre.