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Andy Warhol’s Eyes

Stair is pleased to be offering an unusual American Cast-Iron and Tin Occulist’s Sign, as lot 14 in our August 4th Americana sale. It is painted on both sides and in the form of a pince-nez, with a pair of blue-green eyes peering through the lenses; the whole above a banderole.

This sign was included in the iconic Andy Warhol Collection which previously sold at Sotheby’s, New York on April 30, 1988. The auction was one of the most important sales of the decade. It set the tone for the go-go 80’s and many auction records were broken, especially for cookie jars! The auction catalogs contained twenty-seven different collecting categories with works by artists such as René Magritte, Man Ray, Norman Rockwell, Camille Pissarro, Maxfield Parrish, Picasso and Fernando Botero from which he was influenced and drew many inspirations. His decorative arts focus was primarily Americana in which he collected folk art, paintings and fine federal and classical furniture and decorations.

Mr. Warhol displayed the occulist sign in a vertical position instead of horizontal as they were intended as can be seen in the black and white image from the Sotheby’s catalog. He had a unique way of looking at objects.

Lot 14: American Cast-Iron and Tin Occulist’s Sign, 19th Century

American, 1850-1900 is painted on both sides and in the form of a pince-nez, with a pair of blue-green eyes peering through the lenses; the whole above a banderole.

Exhibited: “Andy Warhol’s Folk and Funk”, The Museum of American Folk Art, New York, 1977, p 18, fig. 34. Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, April 30, 1988, lot # 3158 for $34,100 hammer price.

“Everything about Andy Warhol’s handsome hideaway in the East 60’s was surprising. Not least the fact that this house, which very few of the artist’s friends were ever allowed to visit, had the gleam, the hush and the peace of a presbytery and not a single Warhol on its walls. But the greatest surprise of all was the sheer variety of the collections – everything from treasure to trivia – that it contained.”

— John’s Richardson’s introduction in the Sotheby’s Andy Warhol catalog.

“He (Andy) shopped for two or three hours a day for as many years as I can remember. He started buying American Indian artifacts first because he lived around the corner from a store that had great things that were relatively cheap; he continued to buy them until he died. He bought Americana then, too because he loved everything he saw at Serendipity, his old haunt from the fifties, on East 60th St. – the Tiffany lamps, the carrousel horses, the Punches and the old trade signs that helped propel him towards his later Pop insights. After that he bought primitive portraits and country painted furniture, then high-style painted furniture.”

— Jed Johnson’s introduction in the Sotheby’s Andy Warhol catalog.

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