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Warhol's last masterwork: Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car to be offered at Christie's
This Tour de force is estimated to achieve $12-16 million. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s presents a masterwork from the Daimler Art Collection: Andy Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined Version, 1954), executed in 1986. This monumental work of nearly fourteen feet tall was produced for the Daimler Art Collection on the occasion of the automobile’s centenary in 1986. Realized the same year as the celebrated spectral “Fright Wig” Self-Portrait, also painted over the black void of the canvas, this vast and vibrant work ranks among the most striking in Warhol’s late oeuvre. Indeed, the last decade of his life was considered by some to be some of the most innovative of his career. The Cars series was his last work before his sudden death in 1987. This Tour de force is estimated to achieve $12-16 million.

The Mercedes-Benz W196 is an icon in the Motorcars History; it was the Mercedes-Benz Formula One entry in the 1954 and 1955 Formula One seasons, winning 9 of 12 races entered in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Pictured by Andy Warhol, it becomes a symbol of post-war prosperity, industrial challenge, and America's fascination with the packaged image of the sleek. Repeated twelve times, the loaded symbol of the car is at once exacerbated and deflated. Conversely there is a remarkably sensual and seductive quality in the way the cars are presented without shadows, as if they were floating, and in the iridescent colors. This repetition process lies at the heart of many of Warhol's seminal works, such as the Brillo Boxes, Campbell's Soup Cans or the Marilyn portraits. Warhol indulges in the American fascination with objects, status, beauty, and fame, reveling in the lack of consciousness precipitated by obsessive material desire.

“It is an honor to be entrusted with the sale of this masterwork for such a reputable institution as The Daimler Art Collection”, declared Eva Schweizer, head of the Christie’s office in Stuttgart. “Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined version, 1954), executed in 1986, was one of Warhol last work before his sudden death.”

While cars emerged sporadically in the works of Italian Futurists, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the automobile became a motif in its own right, and artists like Warhol and Tom Wesselmann were on the forefront of that movement. The works in the Daimler series were all based on Daimler photographs. The Daimler Warhols were shown at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1988 and then in 2010 at the Albertina Museum in Vienna in the exhibition “Andy Warhol. Cars”. The commission given to Andy Warhol was a landmark for the Daimler Company’s future intensive cooperation with contemporary artists as well as its collection’s early international orientation. Artists Robert Longo, Sylvie Fleury, and Vincent Szarek were commissioned to create further works.

The Daimler Art Collection, established over 30 years ago by Daimler-Benz, manufacturer of premium cars including the Mercedes-Benz, comprises almost 2,000 modern and contemporary works by more than 700 international artists, ranging from Andy Warhol to Nam June Paik to Walter de Maria and Mark di Suvero. The collection has long established international exhibition and education program. Proceeds from the sale of Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined version, 1954), will be used to develop Daimler Art Collection's commitment to art and securing its' long term future.

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