Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (Fright Wig),


Next week this beauty is up for auction

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening AuctionThursday,
November 17
Estimate: $20,000,000–30,000,000

I remember seeing the purple edition at the San Francisco MOMA.

Portraits and images of Warhol—which
can be found on everything from museum walls to tote bags—are something
most of us have seen before. But ubiquity isn’t synonymous with
comprehension. As a mode of self-expression, the self-portrait was
repeatedly utilized by the notoriously insecure Warhol—and Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) is
not an exception so much as the opportunity to think more deeply about
what it means to pose before a camera. “You look at his face, you look
at his eyes and his cheeks and his mouth and there’s an extraordinary
honesty and quite courageous nakedness about these paintings,” said
Macaulay of the series to which Fright Wig belongs. The piece
itself is dramatic. “The screen is perfection, the black and white
heightens the sense of cinematic quality, the scale is engulfing,”
Macaulay said. “You’re standing in the presence of greatness,
confronting this man who is so critical to generations of subsequent
artists in the 20th century.” Though powerfully influential, Warhol’s
life was cut short: Just a few months after creating this work, he died
unexpectedly at 58 from complications related to gallbladder surgery.
—Isaac Kaplan