Before there was the “selfie,” there was the self-portrait. And a series of six made by Andy Warhol sold for $30.1 million in New York on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
I realised two things: first that Warhol was without question the greatest portrait painter of the 20th century, and secondly that it was many years since he had made an iconic self-portrait. A week later I visited Warhol in New York and suggested to him an exhibition of new self-portraits. A month later he had a series of images to show me in all of which he was wearing the now famous “fright wig.”
The images were made a year before Warhol’s unexpected death in 1987. Sotheby’s describes Warhol’s career and the significance of the portraits:
Throughout his career, self-representation was the lifeblood of Warhol’s work, and of all the Self-Portraits he made throughout his lifetime it was the 1966 and 1986 series which are most revered. …
The 1986 Self-Portraits are universally acknowledged as Warhol’s last great artistic gesture in which he re-attains the artistic high-ground of his seminal works from the 1960s. They are the final, definitive self-image that Warhol left for posterity.