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17th Dec 2009

Un – Deniable Red Portrait of Andy Warhol

The question is being played out in the media and soon in court in a new form, “What is an authentic Andy Warhol work?”

According to Arthur Danto, Andy Warhol’s work questioned what is art: “What is the difference between two things, exactly alike, one of which is art and one of which is not?”

While one of Warhol’s Brillo Boxes is worth a fortune, a similar regular box that contains Brillo shipped to stores becomes trash that is hopefully recycled.

But now the question has moved one step further to include Warhol’s own work, often produced under his direction by others in his Factory. What makes an authentic Warhol different from one he merely consented to issue? More importantly, is there really a difference?

Warhol would have loved the controversy, since he said, “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” The dispute is getting a lot of inches!Tate Modern’s Nicholas Serota, wealthy art dealer Anthony d’Offay, Sussex businessman and underwater explorer David Mearns, and American film producer Joe Simon have all had their works of the Andy Warhol portrait denied by the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc, a part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, headed up by Joel Wachs.Although at present magazine publisher Richard Ekstract is not reported as a part of the class action lawsuit headed up by Joe Simon against the authentication board, his red self portrait of Warhol is also denied.

No one disputes that Andy Warhol himself had the photo taken in an inexpensive photo booth, and then turned into an acetate transparency for silk-screening. The controversy swirls around the use of the acetate to create the second group of red portraits.It seems that Andy Warhol had an associate bring the acetate to an outside firm which ran the red portraits. It is said that he later approved them, but apparently the authentication board lacks the solid proof it wants for that, although there is fairly solid proof as Warhol personally signed one copy to his longtime business partner, the Zurich-based art dealer Bruno Bischofberger (“To Bruno B Andy Warhol 1969”).Andy Warhol also signed a copy of Rainer Crone’s 1970 catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s work. Warhol worked on this catalogue with Crone, plus an image of Bischofberger’s signed portrait appears both on the cover and inside of it.As an artist, who like Warhol is the founder of a new art theory (Post Conceptual Art– using symbols for strokes, plus the branch called UnGraven Image), this conflict has major implications and lessons that I and all artists today need to learn.

To begin with, we need to carefully keep provenance and catalog our own works, or oversee this. While printing plates can be destroyed, digital images are fairly easy to reproduce and artists like myself who create original digital prints need to be especially careful to keep records.Prominent artists need to set up the foundations and boards that will handle their works with checks and balances, to prevent abuses by those who hold power. There is a lot of money and art world power. Money and power can sorely tempt mere non-artist mortals who have not learned that standing in front of a canvas is standing in front of a canvas, whether in a mansion or a converted garage – what matters is light, heat or air-conditioning.Collectors, museums and dealers have the right to question authorities. While an artwork that is the undisputed and well known work of an artist is the safest investment, does the opinion of one expert or body of experts really make a work worth more less when equally educated authorities hold a different opinion?For a presentation video that is almost completed I created Double Un – Denied Andy Warhol digitally using the basic portrait in much the same way Andy Warhol used his acetates. It is a playful homage to Andy Warhol who is one of the artists whose work has directly inspired my work and Post Conceptual Art theory. [See: Andy Warhol is a Grandfather to Post Conceptual Art] This artwork will be available soon as an original digital print/painting (I will be painting on each one also) through a dealers soon.So, another question to ask is. “When does an art authority cease to be recognized and taken seriously by collectors, museums, and dealers – who really decides?” If an authority claimed my work is fake, but I, as the artist claimed it as my work, which would be true?The answer seems obvious. Let me toss in Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 work Fountain. Was Duchamp present when his Fountain was created? Yet, we attribute it to him.

When collectors, museums and dealers accept Fountain as a great work of art, why would they give weight to the denied claim of the authentication board? At least museum curators and dealers should be able to distinguish whether the emperor is wearing any clothes, whatever he claims.
The reports, including an excellent one by Richard Dorment in the New York Review of Books , are saying that stamping a work “Denied” basically renders it unsaleable in our art market. As an artist, I personally feel this relates to Warhol’s groundbreaking work painting dollar bills and questioning value and the link between art and money. It is a question that I intended to also pursue with my own work – but with new slants.I never anticipate the current brouhaha over Andy Warhol’s own work, which clearly by several accounts he at least appropriated as his own. But, since my art, and the theory I am founding owes so much to his work, and although I am still emerging, I have a responsibility based on what I am doing and the recognition that historically must follow.

So I am about to take another revolutionary stand.Humor me for a moment as I deeply need to thank the Warhol Foundation itself for its wonderful philanthropic work, including for the grants and help it continues to offer to artists and not for profit groups, art writers and, frankly the world because art can change lives. In no way would I take a stand other than for the Warhol Foundation itself, which basically I support.Yet the questions exist that need to be addressed in relation to these Warhol portraits and art works in general.Who decides if something is a work of great art?This question is at the heart of the issue as the red portraits will be considered great art if they are by Andy Warhol and , well, perhaps not really art if they are not.An expert is only an expert if people agree on his/her expertise and adhering to the expert’s opinions. It is not only the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board that is deciding that the red Warhol portraits are not actual Warhols – it is also anyone, including art collectors, advisers, curators, museums, and dealers who accept and act upon their decision.What if collectors, dealers, museums, curators ignore the stamps of denied and findings of the board? Or any art expert? Who really decides if the Emperor is wearing any clothes for you?Is there a fall domino effect that will befall other art professionals who accept the strange possibility that the authentication board is correct and that a self portrait that was signed by an artist and sent to a close friend, then included in a catalogue raisonné that was approved and also signed by the artist is not actually to be considered the work of the artist?Is discrediting a work of art accomplished simply by stamping “denied” on the verso? Why does this have to be?To mitigate, even turn the tables on the dreaded and seemingly powerful “Denied” stamp, I am “stamping” the word: DENIED on the back of ever single authentic red Andy Warhol stand alone portrait I create and sign. This includes the Double Un – Denied Andy Warhol along with a small edition of Holiday cards I am privately sending.Although I am a Post Conceptual artist, I see the lettered stamp on the verso as a kind of Word Art that somehow adds conceptually to the image and work on the front side.On November 11, 2009 in a second kind of article dubbed ‘What Is an Andy Warhol?’: An Exchange in the New York Review of Books In an answer to Joel Wachs ‘s comments in letters to the Editor Richard Dorment answers Joel Wachs’ comments in the Letters to the Editor concerning the original article linked above.

Richard Dorment writes,” Readers should not be fooled by Mr. Wachs’s bluster. His complaints are a diversionary tactic intended to shift attention away from the sublime idiocy of his board’s closing sentence in its letter: ‘It is the opinion of the authentication board that said work is NOT the work of Andy Warhol, but that said work was signed, dedicated, and dated by him.’Not the work of Andy Warhol but signed, dedicated and dated by him?

What would Marcel Marcel Duchamp say?

UPDATE: Wednesday, January 5, 2010– This blog article and @judyrey are honored with 15 MINUTES OF FAME via @WarholWednesday on Twitter. For the next week this article is linked and featured on @WarholWednesday’s Twitter Profile page and messages Tweeted about this award!

UPDATE: November 10. 2010 – According to stories carried in the major press the case also included allegations by Joe Simon-Whelan claiming that the Warhol Foundation illegally restrained trade and rigged prices, “…engaged in any conspiracy, anti competitive acts, or any other fraudulent or illegal conduct”.  Huh?!This is going way overboard as all that was at issue was the authenticity of one artwork, which is a print in a series.These unsubstantiated claims are, according to U.S. District Judge Andrew Peck, “Frivolous allegations.” This information was not put forth in the press releases and information that seemed to focus on the authenticity of one work of art!Fortunately the case was dismissed as an agreement was reached between the parties, wherein Simon-Whelan received nothing and the Warhol Foundation decided not to try to recover legal costs as the plaintiff lacks assets.

“Not only did we not pay him any money, but he admitted on the record in court that there was no basis for his allegations, and the court agreed,” said Nicholas Gravante, an attorney for the foundation.

I am appalled at the allegations and believe that the term “frivolous” may be legally correct, but falls as short as a grain of sand used to describe a mountain, when it comes to these false allegations about the Warhol Foundation. While I continue to hold that the artwork is an authentic Warhol – for the sake of the artist and other collector’s—certainly not Joe Simon-Whelan,  given these unsupported, and clearly to me false allegations about the Warhol Foundation, I support the current dismissal of the case.

The basic black and white Essence Portrait, Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol ) seen here was used for over three weeks by Interview Magazine as their avatar on twitter and to represent their Twitter presence on Facebook. Interview Magazine assumed it was by Warhol himself.However, the work is actually created with using hand drawn & painted tiny symbols as strokes. The symbols used are the original letters of Psalm 19. Several models (art & photos) inspired this work including the Denied Red Portrait pictured above. My work captures that expression. Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) by Judy Rey Wasserman
Double Un – Denied Andy Warholby Judy Rey Wasserman If we ask the question, “What American artist and founder of a revolutionary art theory created an authentic red portrait of Andy Warhol?” Currently, the only correct answer to that question would be Judy Rey Wasserman, according to the actions of the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc.Although it is possibly 15 minutes of fame I could happily bask in, there’s deeply something amiss in the answer not also including Andy Warhol, his name first , especially since my work is an homage to his.
My current stamp is handmade from Styrofoam, which can be cut and pushed out , sort of like a piece of lino, only the Styrofoam is far more fragile making rigid lines and perfection impossible. The fragility of the Styrofoam refers to the fragility of truth and artist’s connection to a work, both physically as it passes to a collector and now Warhol’s connection to his red portraits. Denied Stamp by Judy Rey Wasserman with artist’ signature, initials and dated

 

* * *
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true?  See for yourself. See more. Read:  In the Beginning

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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.

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4 Responses to “Un – Deniable Red Portrait of Andy Warhol”

  1. charlino Says:

    I’ve always wondered who appoints the people who sit on the board and judge what is and is not art – and now, we have a board that cares not whether or not an artist’s signed work is legitimate. This is an excellent blog, and from an artist’s perspective, an important one.

  2. jane Says:

    this letter in the new york review of books says it all really. As all of Warhol’s associates have come froward in support of this series, is it simply the ego of the board and president joel wachs which forces them to spend millions of dollars of warhol’s own funds trying to prove the artist didnt know what he was doing? gerard malanga says that warhol would be spinning in his grave!

    What Andy Warhol Really Did

    By Rainer Crone
    In response to What Is an Andy Warhol? (October 22, 2009)

    To the Editors:

    Richard Dorment’s admirably and concisely written analysis of Warhol’s art and his artistic and conceptual techniques [NYR, October 22, 2009] was much more brilliant and got closer to the essence of Warhol’s radical reinvention of image-making than anything I have read in many years.

    However, I was shocked and appalled to learn how the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (est. 1987) and the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. (est. 1995) are operating blatantly for their own self-interested purposes, ignoring by doing so Warhol’s artistic innovations, which are unique in the history of Western art since the Renaissance.

    As the author of Warhol’s catalogue raisonné and a Professor of Art History at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich—previously I taught at Yale University; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; and New York University—I have followed in detail the activities of the two institutions concerned with Warhol’s work. I have known several members of the Warhol authentication board, including Professor Robert Rosenblum, David Whitney, and others since its foundation in May 1995.

    From 1968 on, I worked closely with Andy Warhol. Under his supervision, I had access to his archives and was able to make a complete inventory of his work in his studio on Union Square. I collaborated with him until his death in February 1987.

    Between June 1968 and July 1970, as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hamburg, in my mid-twenties, I produced and wrote the very first catalogue raisonné of his paintings, films, and works on paper, published in 1970 by Hatje Verlag, Stuttgart (in German); Praeger, New York; and Thames & Hudson, London. My original research was funded by a generous two-year doctoral grant from the German government and intentionally did not include any commercial backing or financial support from any gallery or individuals (like collectors, art advisers, etc.).

    In January 1970, before the publication of my catalogue raisonné, Warhol and I met in his Factory on Union Square to discuss which image should be used for the cover of the raisonné of his work. To demonstrate his unique reproduction technique using silk screens, Warhol showed me two paintings, identical in color and outline, of the same image, from the series Red Self Portrait. He suggested that we use one of these two paintings for the cover to illustrate his repetitive and multiple reproductions of the same image—in this case, his self-portrait. We chose the Red Self Portrait, which had been recently acquired by Warhol’s Swiss dealer and Interview magazine co-owner Bruno Bischofberger and signed and dedicated to “Bruno B.” My 1970 catalog, as well as the revised editions of 1972 (Milan: Mazotta Editore), which included an additional 406 works approved by Warhol, and 1976 (Berlin: Wasmuth), listed this Red Self Portrait as entry #169, but the work was omitted from the Zurich-based gallery Ammann’s 2004 catalogue raisonné (without any notification or query to me)—as if this painting never existed or had been destroyed.

    This painting was a perfect example of Warhol’s technique of making multiple silk screens of the same image (for different colors, etc.) and was produced using the more “hands off” approach he continued with in the 1970s and 1980s. Since he often conveyed the artistic design by telephoning details to the silk screen factory, it is appropriate to compare this approach to the historically first “art by telephone” technique, developed in 1922 by the eminent Bauhaus artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, with whom Warhol was familiar through his studies at Carnegie Tech. (See my book The Pictorial Oeuvre of Andy Warhol, a revised catalogue raisonné with about 350 additional entries, that served in 1974 as my Ph.D. thesis and was published by Wasmuth in 1976.)

    The artist had chosen at that time the unique and more modern production technique of silk screen over the traditional hand-painted ones; this new technique was a result of Warhol’s new concept of art-making and his rejection of the centuries-old theory of the artist as auteur, the unique artistic originator.

    ow aware the artist was of the theoretical as well as philosophical implications of his mechanical technique of art-making, using silk screening and other simple reproduction processes (rubber stamp, “blotted line”), became evident in the single published interview Warhol gave that, so far as I know, deserves to be classified as accurate:

    “…No one would know whether my picture was mine or somebody else’s.”
    “It would turn art history upside down?”
    “Yes.”[1]
    This concept, arrived at by Warhol in 1962—following progressive experimentation in his commercial art work of the early 1950s with rubber stamp and mono print techniques—can be declared as one of Warhol’s most significant and important contributions to Western art. Intentional and purposefully conceived, it involves a progressive sequence of mechanical image creations: from hand painting to mono prints, lino cuts, rubber stamps, stencils, single and multiple silk screens in the years 1963-1964.

    This use of multiple silk screens began in 1962 with the silk screen painting Baseball and continued into 1965; it demonstrated Warhol’s mechanical process, in which the artist’s hand was removed from the execution of the work. This approach can be read as Warhol’s understanding of Duchamp’s way and method of presenting art works. Warhol’s interest lies in conceptual properties and production methods, not in the actual act of making the painting. His unique production method was in the end a fusion of photography and painting.

    From 1974 to 1976 I collaborated with Andy Warhol on another book on his drawings and works on paper from 1947 to 1976, that was published in 1976 by Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, and served as a catalog for a retrospective exhibition of Warhol’s early works on paper traveling through Western Europe.

    Ever since I published the 1970 catalog in close cooperation with Warhol, I have been guided by the idea that a catalogue raisonné should be produced in close consultation with the artist. This principle, which I followed scrupulously as a young art historian, was perfectly defined by Michael Findlay in a book published in 2004:

    The production of a catalogue raisonné of a living artist’s work has become a venture of a major magnitude as it has been realized in the last four decades that such a project, if conducted not by an interest-conflicted party, like a commercial gallery (owning works by the artist at hand) or the Estate not governed by a scholar, but instead by an absolutely independent scholar-historian with a profound knowledge of the artist’s work and the arts of the past century, has merits far beyond one’s immediate imagination and benefits not only the fair and balanced estimates in the market, with the galleries, auction houses and the like, but also the more detached institutions of exhibitions, museums and collectors.
    Beyond these secondary benefits such an enterprise with carefully, systematically conducted research allows the artist himself to review his genealogy of stylistic developments from the very early beginnings up to the present day. A published catalogue raisonné may assume a regulatory function in the artist’s relationship to the gallerist, the auction houses and the collector. In the end, the catalogue raisonné represents a public consciousness of an individual’s oeuvre in a detached non-promoting manner and allows a fair and reasoned comparison with the ever increasing and globalized art production of our days. It also guarantees and fortifies in a much fairer way the parameters of intellectual property.[2]
    While researching the 1970 catalogue raisonné, I inspected the original records and personally consulted individual collections belonging to galleries and collectors suggested by Warhol. These included the Leo Castelli Gallery, which exclusively represented the artist worldwide and in New York City after 1964, and the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery (run by Castelli’s former wife) in Paris. Other galleries and collectors (such as Elena Ward of the Stable Gallery, Emile de Antonio, et al.) are listed in my book, Andy Warhol (1970). They offered records concerning Warhol’s works that I could draw on for my books. This information was approved by Andy Warhol before publication.

    ndeed, Warhol’s technique of mechanical reproduction is one of the most important advancements in artistic techniques of the entire twentieth century, comparable to the invention of the mimetic painting style with its central perspective by artists of the Renaissance in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. And this achievement gives him—until this day—an exceptional position in modern art, marked by the uninterrupted inflation of prices for his paintings in the commercial market. In consequence, it is, of course, crucial to acknowledge Warhol’s unique contribution to the development of contemporary art and filmmaking—the rejection of authorship as an essential feature of authenticity and originality.

    Subsequently, Warhol and I had a debate over two weeks on the merits and importance of his early hand-painted works on canvas (1960 to 1962), which the artist had hidden away in his attic and nobody had seen before I discovered a tiny photograph of one of them in a fashion magazine. Finally, one day, Warhol came with Polaroid photographs that he had taken of these paintings in his attic and handed them over to me for publication in my catalogue raisonné.

    Warhol expressed his wish to have these photographs of his so-called “early works” published in my book, to contrast with the later, more mechanically produced, silk-screened works he created after 1962. No photographic documentation existed of the “early” paintings until I published them, with Warhol’s authorization. All such details, included in the catalog at his request, were significant to Warhol, since he intended to clarify the evolution of his artistic position and his avant-garde concept of questioning the six-hundred-year-old tradition (since Giotto) of the imperative notion of authorship.

    As a scholar of art and film history, I believe that my close and exclusive cooperation with Warhol gives me the authority and the right to make official and public statements about the authenticity of the artist’s conceptual intentions and his technique of art-making and—last but not least, his important avant-garde films as cinéma d’auteur, produced between 1963 and 1968 (before the almost fatal shooting accident in his studio).

    In 1987, Rizzoli published A Picture Show by the Artist, the last project I collaborated with Warhol on before his untimely death in February of that year. Not only had Warhol granted me the copyright for the images used in the 1970 raisonné and its revised 1972 version, but for all of the books which we worked on together.

    inally, I should make a personal statement about the confusing and dubious incident caused by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board, Inc.: its denial of the painting the Red Self Portrait, dedicated to Bruno B, which Warhol and I chose together for the cover of his first major scholarly book publication with the catalogue raisonné in 1970, in which it was listed as entry #169. (In my catalog it was dated 1964, the year Warhol first used the image, but the Red Self Portrait inscribed “to Bruno B” was actually created in 1965.) This appalling decision certainly does not demonstrate any scholarly rigor on the part of the Andy Warhol Authentication Board.

    Today one of the two paintings with this title listed in my catalogue raisonné, the Red Self Portrait, was intended to be a gift to the Tate Modern in London, but is not yet included in the museum’s collection. Irritating—how history can be distorted by pure and plain commercial interests! I had both of those paintings in my hands in early 1970: this painting, which Warhol signed and dedicated to Bruno B, and a second Red Self Portrait from the same series.

    When, in 1986, Warhol came to London for his show at Anthony d’Offay’s gallery, he signed in d’Offay’s presence one copy of my 1970 book in two places: one signature was across the dust jacket, which reproduces the “Bruno B” Red Self Portrait eight times. The other was on the book’s half-title page. It is important to realize that Warhol and myself—as I described above—together chose the “Bruno B” Red Self Portrait for the cover of the book. Warhol’s signature across the “Bruno B” image on the dust jacket gives further unequivocal evidence that Warhol still in 1986 not only was authenticating the work itself, but remained proud of the painting, as well as of my early catalogue raisonné (then sixteen years in print), which had proved so many times before to be a very reliable source.

    It is hard to believe that Warhol would have signed my book and the image of the “Bruno B” Red Self Portrait if there had been the slightest doubt in his mind that it was not “his work.” The combination of the dedication on the back of the painting with the choice of that image for the cover of the catalogue raisonné, together with his endorsement sixteen years later of the image by signing across it, leave no room whatever for any doubt as to the authenticity of the work and the artist’s intention.

    To deny a painting chosen by the artist for the cover of his first scholarly publication when that work is signed and inscribed to the artist’s longtime dealer is an act of folly and gross misjudgment. Art scholarship does not consist of the theories constructed after the artist’s death by those who never knew him. Its bedrock is the body of work that the artist authenticated—beyond a shadow of doubt—in his lifetime.

    Rainer Crone
    University Professor of Art History
    Ludwig Maximilian University
    Munich and New York

    Notes
    [1]Gene Swenson’s interview with Warhol, “What is Pop Art?,” Artnews, November 1963.

    [2]Michael Findlay, “The Catalogue raisonné” in The Expert versus the Object: Judging Fakes and False Attributions in the Visual Arts, edited by Ronald D. Spencer, Oxford University Press, 2004.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23680

  3. judyrey Says:

    Thank you for continuing the discussion with this pertinent and detailed post!

  4. Hope @ Polaroid Factory Says:

    Hi there, just browsing for information for my Polaroid site. Lots of information out there. Wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but very nice site. Take care.

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