Back

ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)

 
ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea. ANDY WARHOL - Electric Chairs - screenprint - 35 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea.
Electric Chairs197135 3/8 x 47 7/8 in. ea.(89.85 x 121.6 cm) screenprint
Provenance
Julian Schnabel, purchased directly from the artist
Private Collection
Private Collection, New York
Literature
Feldman & Schellmann II.74-83
Inquire

“When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect” – Andy Warhol

History

The vibe of Warhol’s Electric Chairs is surely the most macabre of his 70-odd paintings and prints that form the Death and Disaster series. Like a good Hitchcock thriller, the terror happens offscreen leaving the viewer to feel shock without firsthand experience of the moment of death. Metropolitan Museum curator and friend Henry Geldzahler could not have imagined the brilliance of Electric Chairs when in June 1962, he met with Andy at the cozy Serendipity 3 restaurant on the Upper East Side and laid the groundwork for Andy’s new obsession — the media portrayal of death and violence. Over lunch, he waved the front-page Mirror clipping, “129 Die in Jet!” in front of the young artist and Andy took that timely advice. He began to explore the empathetic responses underlying the transformation of commonplace catastrophes.

By employing the same silkscreen technique in both paintings and prints, Warhol’s oeuvre is largely viewed through the lens of that inextricably intertwined relationship. With that in mind, the 1971 edition of 10 Electric Chairs screenprints in an edition of 250 plus 50 artist’s proofs published by Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, is perfectly suited to stand as the culmination of what Andy knew so well: that “when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect” (“What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters”, Art News, November 1963). The brilliant colors bring a stark, ameliorating contrast to the macabre subject matter. But the irony is that repetition and the same mechanized purity of a screenprint that elevated Campbell’s soup cans and Coca Cola bottles to fine art status serves a different purpose here. The screenprint acts as desensitizing agent that by degrees creates emotional separation from the gruesome, the macabre, and death and mortality. As if to further declare his intentions, the cavernous room of earlier iterations is reduced to a shallow plane giving a more tightly focused view of the chair itself, its morbidity underscored by blocks of yellow, pink, blue and orange. This version of the electric chair would not be his last, yet it all but settles the question of our collective indifference as an unempathetic society.  

 

  • Warhol27823_history1
    Andy Warhol in front of The Electric Chair, 1986
  • Warhol27823_history2
    The Whitney’s 2018-2019 retrospective, Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, featured several examples of Electric Chairs screenprints
  • Warhol27823_history3
    Andy Warhol, Self Portrait with a Skull, 1977, Polaroid TM, Polacolor Type 108
  • Warhol27823_history4
    Andy Warhol and Stephen Bruce at Serendipity 3, circa 1962
“Art is anything you can get away with.” -Andy Warhol

MARKET INSIGHTS

  • Warhol27823_AMR
  • The graph by Art Market Research shows that since 1985, Warhol prints have increased at a 12.2% annual rate of return
  • Full sets of Warhol’s most celebrated portfolios, such as Endangered Species, Soup Cans, and Marilyn, have seen a strong increase in value in recent years
  • A full set of 10 Marilyn Monroe screenprints sold in May 2021 for over $3 million USD, and a full set of Endangered Species sold in March 2021 for over $4 million USD
  • Warhol’s Death and Disaster series is among his best-known work – a piece from this series, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), set the record price for a Warhol at auction, selling in November 2013 for over $105 million USD

Top Results at Auction

“Silver car crash (Double disaster)” (1963), silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas, 105 x 164 1/8 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 13 November 2013 for $105,445,000
“Silver car crash (Double disaster)” (1963), silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas, 105 x 164 1/8 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 13 November 2013 for $105,445,000
“Triple Elvis” (1963), silkscreen ink and silver paint on canvas, 82 x 69 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November 2014 for $81,925,000
“Triple Elvis” (1963), silkscreen ink and silver paint on canvas, 82 x 69 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November 2014 for $81,925,000
“Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)” (1963), synthetic polymer, silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen, 90 x 80 in.  Sold at Christie’s New York: 16 May 2007 for $71,720,000
“Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)” (1963), synthetic polymer, silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen, 90 x 80 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 16 May 2007 for $71,720,000
“Four Marlons” (1966), silkscreen ink on unprimed linen, 81 x 65 in.  Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November, 2014 for $69,605,000
“Four Marlons” (1966), silkscreen ink on unprimed linen, 81 x 65 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 12 November, 2014 for $69,605,000

Comparable Paintings Sold at Auction

“Electric Chairs (Set of 10)” (1971), color screenprints, 35 1/2 x 48 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2014 for $629,000 USD
“Electric Chairs (Set of 10)” (1971), color screenprints, 35 1/2 x 48 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: 13 November 2014 for $629,000 USD
  • Another full set of 10 Electric Chairs from 1971
  • Sold for $629,000 seven years ago, and the Warhol market has grown
“Endangered Species (F.
“Endangered Species (F. & S. II.293-302)” (1983), screenprint in colors, 38 x 38 in. each. Sold at Sotheby’s London: 17 March 2021 for $4,054,729 USD
  • A full set of screenprints from Warhol’s celebrated “Endangered Species” series
  • This recent sale from March 2021 shows a strong market for full sets of screenprints
“Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)” (1967), screenprint on paper in colors, 36 x 36 in. each. Sold at Christie’s New York: 14 May 2019 for $3,855,000 USD
“Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)” (1967), screenprint on paper in colors, 36 x 36 in. each. Sold at Christie’s New York: 14 May 2019 for $3,855,000 USD
  • Another strong result for a full set of screenprints, depicting one of Warhol’s most famous subjects
  • Full sets from major series command high prices at auction
“Big electric chair” (1967-1968), acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 54 x 74 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2014 for $20,437,000 USD
“Big electric chair” (1967-1968), acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 54 x 74 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: 14 May 2014 for $20,437,000 USD
  • This single “Electric Chair” painting sold for over $20.4 million at auction seven years ago, and the Warhol market has grown
  • Works from Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series perform well at auction
  • Strong result for an “Electric Chair” at auction
“Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol

Image Gallery

Additional Resources

Explore the 2018-2019 retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, which featured Electric Chairs screenprints
Read the 2019 Forbes article “More Than 30 Years Since Andy Warhol’s Death, His Works Remain Highly Collectible And Recession-Proof” by Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle
Tour the 2020 Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Modern, which featured examples from the Death and Disaster series, with curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran

Inquire

Inquire - Art Single

Other Works by Andy Warhol

You May Also Like