ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)

Self-Portrait with Skull19774 1/4 x 3 1/2 in.(11.43 x 8.89 cm) Polaroid, Polacolor
The Estate of Andy Warhol
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Sale, Christie's, Andy’s World, 13 - 25 March 2014, sale 3842, lot 159
Private Collection, Puerto Rico


In the most general sense, Warhol's use of skulls in his work contemplates the inevitable reality of human existence. Historical references to skulls used in memento mori and vanitas paintings abound but for Warhol, a skull provided a deeply personal reflection on his mortality. The motif was also far more multifaced for Warhol, touching on personal philosophy and aesthetic considerations. On Andy's playful and ironic side, a skull starkly contrasts celebrity culture, glamour, and the superficial aspects of popular culture. It was a wry rebuttal to the work responsible for building his financial empire, undermining the notion of eternal fame and immortality often implicit in his celebrity portraiture.