On November 11, Sotheby’s will unveil their latest piece for the upcoming fall contemporary season – Andy Warhol’s mighty 82 by 57 inch Mao Zedong silkscreen executed in 1972. Rare Warhol Mao is expected to auction for $40 million at Sotheby’s.
Currently the highest price at an auction for a rare Warhol Mao painting is $17.4 million from an auction 9 years ago at Christie’s New York in November 2006. The 1972 work was executed in a similar size and color as the most recent Mao in the Sotheby’s auction.
Following his “Flowers” Series, Mao (1972) marks the first of the Mao series and the return of Warhol’s seven year hiatus from painting. Editor of Interview Magazine, Bob Colacello, wrote in his book Holy Terror about where the idea for the Mao paintings came from.
“It began with an idea from Bruno Bischofberger, who had been pushing Andy to go back to painting… Bruno’s idea was that Andy should paint the most important figure of the twentieth century.” – Bob Colacello
Albert Einstein was also considered for the impact of his Theory of Relativity but despite Bruno’s various suggestions, Warhol had already conceived the idea of painting Mao Zedong. Colacello recalls Warhol saying, “I was just reading in Life magazine that the most famous person in the world today is Chairman Mao. Shouldn’t it be the most famous person, Bruno?”
Sotheby’s considers this particular Mao as one of the most significant versions of the series remaining in a private collection. According to Sotheby’s, “At the hands of the Pop master, the official representation of the Chairman used for the dissemination of Communism was turned into a commodity of the Capitalist economy, no more consequential than a can of Campbell’s Soup.”
Learn more about Warhol’s Mao on Artnet.