Christie’s is delighted to present a masterwork from the Daimler Art Collection: Andy Warhol’sMercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined Version, 1954), executed in 1986. This monumental work of nearly fourteen feet tall was produced for the Daimler Art Collection on the occasion of the automobile’s centenary in 1986. Realized the same year as the celebrated spectral “Fright Wig” Self-Portrait, also painted over the black void of the canvas, this vast and vibrant work ranks among the most striking in Warhol’s late oeuvre. Indeed, the last decade of his life was considered by some to be some of the most innovative of his career. The Cars series was his last work before his sudden death in 1987. This Tour de force is estimated to achieve $12-16 million.
The Mercedes-Benz W196 is an icon in the Motorcars History; it was the Mercedes-Benz Formula One entry in the 1954 and 1955 Formula One seasons, winning 9 of 12 races entered in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Pictured by Andy Warhol, it becomes a symbol of post-war prosperity, industrial challenge, and America’s fascination with the packaged image of the sleek. Repeated twelve times, the loaded symbol of the car is at once exacerbated and deflated. Conversely there is a remarkably sensual and seductive quality in the way the cars are presented without shadows, as if they were floating, and in the iridescent colors. This repetition process lies at the heart of many of Warhol’s seminal works, such as the Brillo Boxes, Campbell’s Soup Cans or the Marilyn portraits. Warhol indulges in the American fascination with objects, status, beauty, and fame, reveling in the lack of consciousness precipitated by obsessive material desire.
The Daimler Art Collection, established over 30 years ago by Daimler-Benz, manufacturer of premium cars including the Mercedes-Benz, comprises almost 2,000 modern and contemporary works by more than 700 international artists, ranging from Andy Warhol to Nam June Paik to Walter de Maria and Mark di Suvero. The collection has long established international exhibition and education program. Proceeds from the sale of Warhol’s Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined version, 1954), will be used to develop Daimler Art Collection’s commitment to art and securing its’ long term future.