What Memes Owe to Art History
Title: John Gotti Complete Portfolio
Medium: Screenprint with Colored Paper Collage.
Size: 31” x 24”
Edition: Unique. Stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Art, Inc. Based on photographs of John Gotti for the cover of Time magazine, September 19, 1986 issue.
Andy Warhol created the John Gotti Complete Portfolio in 1986 as part of Andy Warhol’s Commissioned Work. At the time, Warhol had been known for his portraits and Time magazine became interested in Warhol due to the magazine dedicating a cover to Gotti in their “Mafia on Trial” September issue. John Gotti, a famous mobster from the Gambino crime family, was charged with murder, loansharking, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, tax evasion, and more. Gambino was, and still is, considered the most infamous member of the Mafia. Six years after the time that Gotti was arrested and acquitted for racketeering, he was charged for murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Andy Warhol at the time was known for creating glamorous and beautiful portraits. When Time magazine commissioned him for the cover, Warhol’s subject matter changed from his typical glamorous pop art style portfolio. Although Gotti did not fit into Warhol’s usual subjects, such as movie stars, artists, or musicians, he did possess some attributes that Warhol loved about celebrity life. Gotti was known as “Dapper Don” because of his personality in front of the news cameras and his expensive clothing style. He was glamorous in his own right, and a public celebrity in a crime driven world. For this reason, Warhol gladly accepted the commission and created the unique suite of screenprints with colored paper collage numbered respectively on the reverse side. Collectors always enjoy this specific Andy Warhol portfolio due to the unique pop art representation of a rare celebrity figure.
Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.
American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York
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