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Andy Warhol - Alexander The Great F.S. II 291 TP jpg
Andy Warhol - Alexander The Great F.S. II 291 framed jpg
Andy Warhol - Alexander the Great F.S. II 291 TP hanging jpg
Andy Warhol - Alexander The Great F.S. II 291 TP sig blur jpg

Alexander The Great 291 (Trial Proof)

Catalogue Title: Alexander The Great TP (FS IIB.291)

Year: 1982

Size: 39 1/2″ x 39 1/2″

Medium: Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board.

Edition: Edition of 65 TP.

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Alexander the Great 291 (Trial Proof) is a screenprint by Andy Warhol from 1982. As one of the most powerful leaders in human history, Alexander the Great is surely a celebrity in Warhol’s eyes. The Alexander the Great series is based on a Hellenistic bronze sculpture of the Macedonian king, making it the only portfolio in Warhol’s canon to use sculptural source material. In 1982, art dealer Alexander Iolas commissioned Warhol to create a series of prints for his “Search for Alexander” collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This particular print is a trial proof, making it a one-of-a-kind unique artifact from the artist’s oeuvre.

At 13 years old, Alexander began a tutorship with the Aristotle, who taught him about morals, logic, and art, among other subjects. By the age of 18, he had led an army in his first battle and emerged victorious. He was just 20 years old when he officially became king, leading unprecedented military campaigns throughout the East. At the age of 30, he had created the largest empire of the ancient world, spanning from Greece to India.

 Clearly, Warhol couldn’t resist portraying a historical figure of such magnitude. As one of the most influential people of all time, Alexander needed a rebirth into the Pop Art pantheon. The Alexander the Great series are the only works Warhol made based on classical art. They are also his only works based on a sculptural source. By the 1980s, Warhol was appropriating art from various historical periods for use in his Pop catalog, from 19th century European paintings to iconic Italian Renaissance portraits. Among the works he recreated are: Birth of Venus, Saint Apollonia, and The Annunciation.

Alexander the Great 291 (Trial Proof) stays true to classical styles, using detail to focus on the hair and profile. Warhol accentuates the main feature of the subject using highlights, but mostly by outlining the light colored skin in black. These black lines are especially apparent on the king’s eyes and hair; two of the most defining features of ancient classical sculptures. Overall, Warhol’s choice of coloration stays true to the aesthetics of the original sculpture, making for a truly anachronistic feel. It’s as if the print itself hails from an alternate timeline, one where Pop Art emerged in 330 BC instead.

The celebrity status held for thousands of years by the mighty ruler makes him an obvious candidate for an Andy Warhol portrait. This print, as well as Alexander the Great 292, pairs well with other works like Mao and Reigning Queens. Ultimately, Alexander the Great 291 (Trial Proof) is one of the most sophisticated images of Warhol’s body of work, and an absolute treasure for all collectors.

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