Art And Culture

Warhol’s Mao, Banksy’s SWAT Van at Bonhams

Warhol’s Mao, Banksy’s SWAT Van at BonhamsWarhol’s Mao, Banksy’s SWAT Van at Bonhams

Bonhams leads the Post-War and Contemporary Art season with a spectacular Andy Warhol painting of Chairman Mao, estimated at $640,000-860,000, to be offered in the London auction on June 29.

In addition to Warhol’s Mao – said to be the finest version of the subject he ever executed – the sale also features Banksy’s SWAT Van (estimated $220,000-330,000), one of his most important and arresting pieces, and a key work by British artist Damien Hirst.

The stunning, densely-textured painting of Mao comes fresh to the market having originally been handled by the artist’s legendary dealer Leo Castelli in the 1970s. The distinctive coloration and clarity of composition makes this arguably the finest of the series ever to appear at auction. Renowned as one of Warhol’s most significant, signature images, it features in many of the world’s most prestigious public and private collections worldwide, reported.

Banksy’s SWAT van has remained shrouded in mystery since September 2006. It was shown for the first - and only time - in an industrial warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, when the anonymous figure from Bristol, England, made his American debut with a solo exhibition. The true centerpiece was the SWAT van, spray painted in Banksy’s irreverent, insouciant style, with his anti-establishment message.

The painting depicts heavily armed Special Forces agents being hoodwinked by a small boy. Banksy’s characteristic stencilling technique, artfully employed on the SWAT van, and was inspired by an incident: while the artist was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, he noticed the stencilled serial number. Stencilling has since allowed him to carry out complicated graffiti pieces extremely quickly, before he melts away into the night.

 Boundless Energy  

Other highlights are ‘Stamens Sorrow’ by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama ($70,000-95,000), a refreshingly chaotic blast of color and movement from 1986 which, despite hints of melancholy in its title, encapsulates boundless energy and intensity.

Kusama has been making waves in London this year with a strange and spectacular exhibition of her work currently being held at the Victoria Miro gallery.

Zao Wou-Ki’s 1949 work, ‘Untitled’ ($90,000-135,000) offers an important glimpse of the artist’s emerging style in its earliest form, as the contrasting influences of Chinese tradition and European avant-garde collided with dramatic results. It is a particularly rare work and has been in the same family collection since 1976.

Born in Beijing, China in 1921, into a wealthy family, Wou-Ki studied at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou from 1935-1941, later becoming a teacher at the same institution.

Bonhams Director of Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor, said, “Post-war and contemporary art knows no national boundaries.  The artists and sculptors in most demand today come from all over the world as, of course, do the discerning people who collect their work. This specially curated sale is a perfect reflection of the international nature of art in our time.”