Andy Warhol

1928-1987, American

"John Wayne" from the "Cowboys and Indians" portfolio, 1986

Screenprint in colors on Lenox Museum Board
Edition HC 12/15
Signed and annotated in pencil at the lower right: UNIQUE Andy Warhol; numbered in pencil, verso; Rupert Jasen Smith, prntr., with his blindstamp in the lower left corner; Gaultney, Klineman Art, Inc., New York, pub., with their copyright ink stamp, verso
Image/Sheet: 36" H x 36" W

  • Provenance: The artist
    Wayne Enterprises
    Melinda Wayne Munoz (John Waynes Daughter), gifted from the above
  • Literature: Feldman & Schellmann II.377
  • Notes: One of the 15 Hors Commerce impressions, annotated "UNIQUE." The total edition was 250 impressions plus 50 Artist's Proofs, 15 Printer's Proofs, and 10 impressions numbered in Roman numerals.

    Out of all the portraits ever produced by the artist Andy Warhol, his depiction of Hollywood celebrities is among the most memorable. "John Wayne," was produced by the artist about a year before his death, was originally part of a ten-print portfolio titled "Cowboys and Indians." This suite of screenprints also included portraits of other individuals - Teddy Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, George Custer, and Geronimo - who were key figures in the mythology surrounding the American West.

    In Warhol's portrait, Wayne is shown in three quarters view wearing his trademark cowboy hat while brandishing a pistol. This unique version of Andy Warhol's "John Wayne" comes from the estate of John Wayne's daughter, Melinda Wayne Munoz. Previously owned by the Estate of John Wayne, this print was acquired from the artist under an interesting set of circumstances that date back to the 1980s.

    Upon his death in 1979, the rights to use John Wayne's name and reproduce his likeness were transferred to a partnership managed by the family, with a royalty paid to his estate and profits donated to charity. Warhol, who used a press shot for Wayne's 1962 film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" as the basis for his screenprint, never sought formal approval to use the image before releasing his "Cowboys and Indians" portfolio starting in 1986.

    The artist's son, Michael Wayne, first encountered the work by chance in a New York Gallery. After negotiations to license the image were unsuccessful, John Wayne's children filed a lawsuit against the artist to recover any profits obtained from his unauthorized use of the image. Warhol, seeking to limit his legal exposure in the matter, had all remaining examples of the print recalled by The Factory - including prints that had already been purchased. These works had the edition number removed, and Wayne's scarf or pistol were re-colored in one-off color variations before being inscribed "Unique" at the bottom right corner.

    Although Warhol was unsuccessful in re-editioning every example of his "John Wayne" print, his effort to transform each piece into a unique object meant that they could not legally be defined as a "product" which provided the artist with some protections against copyright infringement. However, in addition to re-numbering each "John Wayne" print from the "Cowboys and Indians" portfolio, the Warhol Foundation also gifted his other prints to the Wayne Family as part of a broader legal settlement.
  • Condition: Very good condition. The full sheet and the colors very fresh. A few, very unobtrusive, pinpoint-size specks of stray printer's ink. An approximately 0.125" H x 2.5" W line of the slightest surface abrasion, to the right of center along the extreme lower sheet edge, most likely from the inside seam of the Plexiglas box. The sheet is loose, never mounted or hinged.

    Framed under Plexiglas: 36.5" x 36.5" W x 3" D

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August 30, 2022 12:00 PM PDT
Monrovia, CA, US

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