New season – New highlights: Andy Warhol ”Ship (Toy Painting)”
– ”Ship (Toy Painting)”
Ship was part of the series Toy Paintings (also known as Toy Series), executed in 1983 and commissioned by the legendary art dealer and collector Bruno Bischofberger in Zurich. He had simply asked Andy Warhol to make an exhibition for children. Warhol was quick to respond, he loved the idea, and composed a comprehensive series of 128 paintings depicting monkeys, parrots, dogs, clowns, cars, boats, robots and so on all in unique colour compositions. The artist had found the inspiration for the paintings in his own collection of wind-up mechanical toys. And as Warhol explained a year or so later in an interview in the New York Times, when about a hundred of his paintings were being shown at the Newport Art Museum, “Lots of international toys are included… because a lot of them are the cutest of any I’ve seen”.
› Signed Andy Warhol and dated 1983 on the overlap verso. Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 28 x 35.5 cm. Estimate 1 500 000 – 1 800 000 SEK.
When the series was first shown at Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, under the exhibition title Children Paintings and Installations (3rd December 1983 – 10th March 1984), the entire show was made as an installation. The walls were covered in distinctive wallpaper created especially for the exhibition, designed by Warhol and with a screen-printed decoration of identical repeating fish. This method of using wallpaper recurred often in Warhol’s work. At his first big museum show outside the USA, a major retrospective exhibition at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1968, Warhol had already covered the exterior walls of the museum in his own custom wallpaper of multi-coloured cows. Warhol employed this stylistic technique again for his show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971, even if this time he had restrained himself and only covered the interior walls. On several subsequent occasions, Warhol returned to creating wallpaper designs for exhibition walls of museums and galleries. In fact, the last wallpaper he did was for the exhibition in question, Children Paintings and Installations in 1983, which included the toy paintings.
Bischofberger decided together with Warhol that the paintings, which were made for children and in small formats, would be hung at the eye-level of an average 3-5-year-old. The adult visitors had to crouch down as they moved around the gallery in order to see the works properly. Bischofberger also decided that any adult visitor not accompanied by a child under the age of six would have to pay entrance. The money later went to a charity project supporting vulnerable children.
Bruno Bischofberger had worked with Andy Warhol since the 1960s. In 1965 he had included work by Warhol in an exhibition of Pop Art at his Zurich gallery. The following year they met in person for the first time at the Factory and a lifelong friendship began. Bischofberger was one of the founders of and an investor in Interview Magazine, started by Warhol and first published in 1969. Their creative and energetic collaborations resulted in a number of now-legendary exhibitions.
The provenance of ”Ship”, the painting in the auction, is Bruno Bischofberger. It was purchased at the exhibition at Art Now Gallery in Gothenburg. 38 of the original paintings had been selected for the show, with Warhol himself attending the private view and, rumour has it, encouraging the visitors to buy a painting for their children. The buyers were told to hang it at a low level in the children’s room and then when the time had come for the child to go off to college or university this could be financed simply by selling the piece off.
To be sold at Contemporary Art & Design
Viewing October – November 1, Berzelii Park 1, Stockholm.
Open Mon-Fri 11am–6pm, Sat-Sun 11am–5pm.
Live Auction November 2, Arsenalsgatan 2, Stockholm.