Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Chris Evert [Sixteen Works]
each row (from left to right)
(i.-iv.) stamped with the Andy Warhol Authentication Board numbered respectively 'A119.9511, A122.9511, A114.9511, A121.9511' (on the overlap of each canvas)
(v.-viii.) stamped with the Andy Warhol Authentication Board numbered respectively 'A118.9511, A126.9511, A132.9511, A113.9511' (on the overlap of each canvas)
(ix.-xi.) stamped with the Andy Warhol Authentication Board numbered respectively 'A124.9511, A123.9511, A117.9511' (on the overlap of each canvas)
(xiii.-xvi.) stamped with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamps and numbered respectively 'PO41.016, PO41.017, PO41.018, PO41.019' (on the overlap of each canvas)
each: acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
each: 10 x 10 in. (25.4 x 25.4 cm.)
overall: 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 1977.
Acquired directly from the artist by the late owner

Estate of Andy Warhol, New York
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner
N. Printz and S. King-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings 1976-1978, vol. 5A, New York, 2018, pp. 406-407, 412 and 420-423, nos. 3813.01, 3813.03, 3813.04, 3813.05, 3813.07, 3813.08, 3813.11, 3813.12, 3813.13, 3813.14, 3813.15, 3813.16, 3815, 3816, 3817, 3818 (illustrated).
Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, LeRoy Neiman, Andy Warhol: An Exhibition of Sports Paintings, November 1981-January 1982, no. 6.
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Lot Essay

“I said that the athletes were better than movie stars and I don’t know what I’m talking about because athletes are the new movie stars.” -- Andy Warhol

Richard L. Weisman was a prolific, passionate collector—a man whose love for art endeared him to some of the twentieth century’s most influential creative figures. Known for his eclectic taste and signature joie de vivre, Weisman’s prescient eye allowed him to assemble a remarkable collection of masterworks united by a wide-ranging connoisseurship—a grouping that spanned Post-War and Contemporary art, Design, American Illustration, and more. “Richard bought paintings without reassurances or validations of any kind,” recalled friend Amy Fine Collins. “He was there in the beginning at Roy Lichtenstein and Clyfford Still’s exhibitions, not only with the foresight to buy but also with the instinct to select their best canvases.” For Weisman, art represented an opportunity to explore the vast scope of human creativity, free from all constraints. “I personally don’t like to limit the scope of my collecting,” he stated simply. “I just love the art.”

Art and collecting were, in many ways, in Richard Weisman’s blood. “When you are young, you may feel that what you do as a collector has nothing to do with your family,” Weisman told an interviewer, “but my family background must have had some impact on me.” The son of the notable collectors Frederick and Marcia Weisman, Richard Weisman grew up surrounded by art and artists. His parents—famously depicted in David Hockney’s American Collectors, now at the Art Institute of Chicago—were two of California’s most distinguished connoisseurs and supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and other institutions. Marcia’s brother, Norton Simon, too was a prominent California collector whose collection now resides in his eponymous museum in Pasedena. Richard Weisman’s first acquisition of his own came around his college years, when he purchased a work by the Chilean painter Roberto Matta. Dealer Richard Feigen described how “Richard’s buoyant enthusiasm for art carried from Matta in 1962—to the Ferus Gallery, Irving Blum’s pioneering Los Angeles gallery—to Warhol and Lichtenstein—through to the 1980s.” “He came to art more naturally,” Feigen added, “than anyone I know of his generation.”

During the formative years of Los Angeles’s cultural development, Weisman became a frequent visitor to galleries and artist studios, building the many connections and friendships for which he would become known. “Richard was very much there and always the careful observer,” Irving Blum said of the early years of the Ferus Gallery. “He quickly focused on the emerging Pop style, particularly Warhol and Lichtenstein. He chose carefully and assembled a distinguished collection by moving forward astutely.” In Los Angeles and New York, Weisman steadily assembled not only an exceptional grouping of masterworks—anchored by artists such as Warhol, Rothko, de Kooning, Still, Motherwell, Picasso, and Lichtenstein—but also a remarkable coterie of friends. “Artists, athletes, entertainers of all kinds,” friend Peter Beard observed, “ended up investing with his friendship and guidance.” Weisman became especially renowned for parties and gatherings in which individuals of all stripes came together in a joyous atmosphere infused with creative energy. “Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Barnett Newman, Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, George Segal, John de Andrea, Arman, Basquiat, Keith Haring, Botero, even de Kooning,” Beard enthused. “We met them all at Richard’s.”

Among his many achievements in collecting, it is Richard Weisman’s close relationship with Andy Warhol for which he is best remembered. “Andy and I really got to be good friends in New York because of the social scene,” Weisman recalled, “and we also had the art world as a connection.” The collector described how the artist would often arrive at his apartment “with a whole bunch of paintings under his arm as presents.” When Weisman began to consider how to connect his seemingly disparate interest in sports and art—“I wanted to do something that would bring these two worlds together,” he said—the collector came to Warhol with a major commission. The Athletes Series, completed between 1977 and 1979, consisted of dozens of works depicting the major sports stars of the age—from Dorothy Hamill and Muhammed Ali to O.J. Simpson and Jack Nicklaus. “I chose the sports stars,” Weisman noted. “Andy didn’t really know the difference between a football and a golf ball.” The influential group of sports stars were justifiably intrigued by the enigmatic Warhol, and the feeling was mutual. “Athletes really do have fat in the right places,” the artist wrote in his diaries, “and they’re young in the right places.” Weisman, who would gift many of the Athlete Series canvases to institutions, looked back fondly at the entire process. “We had quite an adventure,” he said. “It was fun times.”

Richard Weisman’s collection would evolve well into the 21st century, as his curiosity brought him to areas such as American Illustration—an area of the art historical canon he appreciated for its unique narrative ability and aesthetic resonance. “He makes decisions based on a gut level—his first intuitive response or impression,” noted Los Angeles artist Laddie John Dill. “There is eclecticism at work on a very high level with the Rockwell and Warhol…. It’s an interesting mix. I really admire his approach to art. He is very much his own mind.” With Weisman’s passing in December 2018, the art world lost not only one of its most ardent patrons, but one of its most steadfast friends. Across a lifetime of collecting and connoisseurship, he created a legacy in art that continues to resonate. “Richard Weisman has had fun,” Peter Beard declared, “and much, much more.”

In a 1977 diary entry, Andy Warhol recalled a studio visit by Richard Weisman: "He was in a nervous mood, and when he saw that I was doing a new style of painting, he got upset, he didn't like that I did the Chrissie Evert in lots of little pictures instead of big ones" (A. Warhol quoted in N. Printz and S. King-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne: Paintings 1976-1978, vol. 5A, New York, 2018, p. 405). But when Weisman saw a group of the 10-inch paintings, assembled in a sixteen-part grid that collectively measured 40 by 40 inches, his concerns dissipated. The effect of the repetition, presented in Warhol’s standard portrait size, captured the essence of the seriality of Pop Art. Warhol went on to create thirty-eight individual 10 x 10 inch portraits of Evert, and the present lot features sixteen of these individual works re-constructed in the grid format that Warhol had originally assembled the works in.
From Andy Warhol’s celebrated Athletes series, this sixteen-part portrait of Chris Evert, considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, eternalizes and venerates the legendary athlete as a superlative icon of American pop culture. The result is a superb and rare example of Warhol’s signature Pop style in which he juxtaposes repeating imagery in variously-hued screens. In this case, the striking colorway consists of pinks, oranges, yellows and red, interspersed with passages of blue, mint and teal. Warhol’s choice in hue and compilation exemplifies the artist’s mastery of color and may also be an homage to the feminine prowess, energy and strength of his subject.

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