A portrait of former Soviet Union leader and father of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin, by American pop artist Andy Warhol, will be a highlight at Bonhams
Prints sale on November 19 in Londons New Bond Street.
Lenin (1987), a screen print in colours on Arches 88, signed and inscribed 'PP 1/6' in pencil, is estimated at a value of £50,000-70,000. This printer's proof, aside from the edition of 120, was printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, with his blindstamp, and published by Galerie Bernd Klüser, Munich. The full sheet measures 1000 x 749mm (39 3/8 x 29 1/2in).
In a Prints sale that provides a narrative of the Rise of Pop, Warhols Lenin takes the leading rolehes the protagonist of our Pop-based show. Lenin is simple, verging on minimalistic. Warhol presents his sitter as an artificial construct staring bleakly out of a black void. Here he is, the former leader of the Soviet Union, naked and exposed.
Its an eerie portrait, and its haunting aura is what makes it so poignant. Flashes of vivid coloura reddy skin tone for face and hand, a stark white shirt collar and cuff, occasional outlines in bright blue, and a couple of licks of canary yelloware emblazoned over a black background. Lenins isolated face, vivid yet ghost-like, stares wild-eyed directly at the viewerimposing and inescapable, just try to avoid catching his gaze.
Lenin, both a portrait and an icon, is one of the great Pop images of the 20th Century.