While his works on canvas reach astronomical prices at auctions, many of Andy Warhol’s prints remain extremely accessible to collectors just starting to build their collection.
From his exquisite A Gold Book to his elegant Fish Wallpaper, you too could have your very own piece of Pop Art history for an affordable price.
Recent results indicate that works by Warhol between £1,000 and £10,000 make up more than 30% of the artist’s lots sold at auction making them an important part of the collector’s landscape. Whether made in the 60s, the 70s or the 80s, Warhol’s work still looks as fresh and contemporary as the day it was born from the silkscreen so it comes as no surprise that the numbers show the artist consistently outstripping his contemporaries at auction, selling for an average price of just under $80 million compared to just under $60 million for Roy Lichtenstein and $30 million for Robert Rauschenberg. Here we take a look at a selection of Warhol’s work that presents the perfect entry point for anyone looking to start or add to a strong collection of post-war and contemporary art.
1. A Gold Book £1,000–7,000
Andy Warhol’s A Gold Book is a precious relic from the days before the Factory and the celebrities, when the artist was still making a living as a fashion illustrator and window dresser. Back then it was common practice to send promotional books to art directors in order to encourage them to commission your work however Warhol’s version is distinctive for being printed on gold gilt, his delicate drawings traced from photographs showing the seeds of what would become his signature style when he began experimenting with screen printing in the 60s. With some editions going for as little as £1,000, this is the perfect first step on your Warhol collecting journey.
2. In the Bottom of My Garden £3,500
This delightful book, rendered in pen and ink and colored with watery pinks and purples is another example of Warhol’s early experiments with printing and the artist’s book. Here we see his fashion illustration style imbued with a playful attitude with flowers and fairies frolicking in a wonderland of innocence and eroticism. Another example of Warhol’s early work, these can be found on the market for just £3,500.
3. Flash £4,500–9,000
Made in 1968, Flash is perhaps the most affordable series of prints that encapsulates Warhol’s fascination with celebrities, the media, and tragedy. While his individual prints of JFK and Jackie remain at the higher end of the market, these works, based on newspaper photographs of the president’s assassination in 1963, are more accessible in an edition of 200 at a fraction of the price.
4. Wild Raspberries £3,000–7,000
Named after an Ingmar Bergman film, Wild Raspberries came about as a collaboration between Warhol and his friend Susie Frankfurt who came up with the recipes for this strange and witty cookbook. From ‘Gefilte of Fighting Fish’ to ‘Baked Hawaii’, this early work is sure to delight Warhol fans and epicures alike.
5. UN Stamp £5,000–7,000
This abstract work sees Warhol join the ranks of Picasso and Dalí before him in producing a limited edition print to raise funds for the educational programme of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. While rare in terms of style, this edition can be bought for under £10,000.
6. Fish Wallpaper £7,000–9,000
Originally intended as the background of Warhol’s Paintings for Children exhibition at the Bruno Bischofberger Gallery in Zürich in 1983, this delightful and elegant work is a lesser known cousin to the artist’s more famous – and less affordable – Cow print.
7. Committee 2000 £7,000–10,000
Made in an edition of 2000 this work shows Warhol’s take on the traditional still life genre, here updated and transformed from art historical trope to vibrant depiction of life at the epicentre of New York’s party scene where nights at Studio 54 turned into days as the party carried on at the Factory.
8. Mildred Scheel £8,000–12,000
One of many portrait commissions Warhol produced in his lifetime, this print of Mildred Scheel was made to raise funds for the German Cancer Society. While it celebrated the famous philanthropist’s work it also represents Warhol’s friendship with Scheel. In contrast with other portraits, here the colours and style are more restrained, perhaps reflecting the seriousness of the cause. With Warhol’s better known portraits selling for more than five times the price, this is the perfect opportunity to own a classic Warhol without the need for a billionaire’s bank balance.
9. Ladies and Gentlemen £9,000–12,000
This series celebrates the drag queens of New York, each one captured in a dramatic pose, whether vogueing or looking wistfully away from the camera. Based on polaroids he took of the models, Warhol applied bright colours to reflect the flamboyance and unique style of his sitters. With Tate Modern recently using Warhol’s portrait of Wilhemina Ross as one of the main publicity images for their blockbuster retrospective of the artist, now is a good time to invest in this previously underappreciated series.
10. Saint Apollonia £10,000–13,000
A devout catholic and frequent visitor to the dentist, it seems only right that Warhol should choose Piero della Francesca’s Saint Appolonia to appropriate in the screen print medium. Patron saint of dentists, here she is shown holding an extracted tooth, a signifier of her grisly martyrdom, highlighted by the blood red background of Warhol’s version. For less than £15,000 collectors can own a work that while witty and bright on the surface, reveals something of the often hidden depths of the artist’s private life.