Dollar Bill Drawing
Dollar Bill Drawing, c1974-1984
Signed in black ink
Marker pen on headed stationery
Sheet: 27 x 21 cm
Framed: 53 x 45 cm
In this fabulous drawing, Warhol distils all the elements of American pop culture down to their most simple expression. Fame, glamour, success, consumerism: all are contained within the simple dollar sign. Such was the appeal of this motif to the artist that in 1981 he created an acclaimed series of screenprints that sought to blur the boundaries between creative and commercial success until they were almost indistinguishable. He once declared that “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall."
This piece is drawn on a sheet of the headed notepaper used by Warhol in his studio - the "Factory". Four separate spaces served as the Factory at different times between 1963 and 1987. The address on the sheet indicates that this drawing was made at the third Factory, which Warhol occupied for ten years between 1974 and 1984. It was located on the third floor at 860 Broadway at the north end of Union Square Park.
After his near-fatal shooting in 1968 he had become increasingly security conscious. The new studio offered the benefit of a rear entrance with freight elevator, allowing him to make a quick getaway when any disgruntled celebrities or admirers entered the building. He did fret that the large windows might allow somebody to throw a rock or bomb inside from the street, but this didn't stop him from choosing the windowsill as his preferred spot to rest and read the newspapers. His friends would pose as secretaries, asking confusing questions on the phone and repeatedly misspelling the names of callers in order to put them off from trying to contact Warhol again.
It was in this studio that he began to gravitate towards the international celebrity set, leaving the counterculture behind. These were the Studio 54 years when his glamour burned brightest. This drawing comes from the epicentre of Warhol's fame and is a peerless piece of both art and social history.
The piece comes with exceptional provenance. It was sourced from the gallery of John McWhinnie, a dealer of art and rare books who was closely associated with the Warhol crowd. A fixture of New York's downtown scene, he handled the archives of numerous cultural figures including Brigid Polk and Velvet Underground member Moe Tucker. He also helped the acclaimed international artist Richard Prince assemble his vast collection of books. He passed away in 2012.
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