ANDY WARHOL | Gun, 1981-1982 | acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Sold for $7,026,500 at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 10 May 2012, New York. [Video]
Jordan Crandall: You don’t like guns, do you?
Andy Warhol: Yes, I think they’re really kind of nice.
(From Splash No. 6, 1986, excerpted in I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, Edited by Kenneth Goldsmith, New York, 2004, p. 373).
After Andy Warhol’s assassination attempt in 1968 by Valerie Solanas, much of the violent imagery that had occupied his work of the 1960s—electric chairs, traffic accidents, nuclear explosions—vanished from his new pictures. Instead, during much of the 1970s, both famous and unfamous faces became a prominent trope. Warhol also began to incorporate different series into his silkscreens, including the infamous oxidation paintings and the “shadow” paintings of the late 1970s. Yet as the injuries from 1968 exerted their relentless and painful influence upon Warhol’s life and work, he returned in 1981 and 1982 to the subjects that he had avoided for more than a decade. 1982 saw showings on opposite sides of the Atlantic for Warhol’s Guns, Knives, and Dollar Signs, some of the most ominous and captivating work of his entire career. Gun, 1981-1982, exhibits Warhol’s full-circle return to the events that shook him to his mortal core in 1968, as we observe upon his canvas the exact style of pistol that almost claimed his life two decades before his death.