By Jennifer Glickel
MIDTOWN — A six-foot wide Andy Warhol self-portrait that Christie's says hasn't been seen publicly for nearly 40 years is on view at the Midtown auction house through Wednesday, when it heads to London for auction.
The monumental piece, with red hues that stretch as long as they do wide, is expected to fetch between $4.8 million and $8 million when it goes on sale next month.
"It manages to be both really enigmatic and really strong," said Jennifer Vorbach, an art dealer and collector from the Upper East Side.
"You don't think of Andy Warhol as a red and white painter necessarily, and with this painting you get the sense of how much of a painterly artist he was," Vorbach added.
Other viewers were also struck by the self-portrait's uniqueness in the context of Warhol's other work.
"The words that come to mind when I see this are 'impactful, daring, and confrontational,' just because of the facial expression," said Todd Herman, a curator at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina. "To my mind, his pensive expression is a side of him you don't normally see. He's hitting you with, 'This is the other side of me.'"
The painting is one of an historic series of 11 large-scale self-portraits that Warhol painted in 1967. Five of them reside in some of world's top art museums, such as the Tate in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst in Munich.
"At the time of its execution Warhol was at the peak of his creative powers and this very rare series of works were the largest self-portraits he ever made," said Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art for Christie's in Europe.
The Warhol will be on the auction block as part of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction from Feb. 16 – 17, which includes pieces by other modern art masters, such as Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Gerard Richter.
The entire auction is expected to realize a combined total of approximately $74 to $106.3 million.
The Warhol self-portrait will be on view to the public for the first time at Christie's New York through Wednesday.