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Pop Duo: Warhol and Lichtenstein at Sotheby’s

John Lyon

On November 9, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction showcases two iconic works of pop art from two of the masters of the genre, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Painted during the nascent years of the pop art movement, the similarities between the two pieces are striking. Both feature bold lines and monochromatic color schemes adopted from advertising art, and through the simple visual symbolism of a Coca-Cola bottle and an ice cream soda, both works address the relationship between consumerism and culture.

The final in a series of four paintings, Warhol’s Coca-Cola [4] Large Coca-Cola was composed in 1962 and was the only work from the quartet that was publicly displayed upon completion. Composed during the same year, Roy Lichtenstein’s Ice Cream Soda captures the idealized American innocence portrayed in advertising culture. Sold to a private collector shortly after its inception, Soda has remained off of the market for more than 50 years.

When addressing the use of the Coca-Cola bottle in his art, Warhol explained that, “America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same thing as the poorest . . . you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and, just think, you can drink Coke, too.” While Warhol may have been captivated by the egalitarian nature of a bottle of Coke, these two paintings defy the accessible nature of their subject matter. Sotheby’s expects the Warhol to bring in more than $20 million, while Ice Cream Soda is valued between $12 and $18 million. Both works will be on view at Sotheby’s New York the prior to the auction.

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Courtesy of Shakespeare and Company - Paul Foster Books - the NY Antiquarian Book Fair
Photo courtesy of Klein Sun Gallery, New York; Li Hongbo