1928 - 1987
Bald Eagle, from Endangered Species (F.S.II.296)
screenprint on Lenox Museum Board, 1983
signed and editioned 114/150 and with the printer's blindstamp, Rupert Jasen Smith, New York and on verso stamped with the artist's and publisher's copyright ink stamp
38 x 38 in, 96.5 x 96.5 cm
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD
Sold for: $301,250
PI Fine Art, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellman, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962 – 1987, fourth edition, 2003, catalogue #II.296, listed and reproduced page 130, listed pages 189 and 218
In the early 1980s, American Pop artist Andy Warhol was approached by environmental activists to help raise awareness about the dire situation facing certain wild animals around the world. The idea for this 1983 project arose from a discussion Warhol had with New York art dealers Ronald and Frayda Feldman. Warhol created a series of 10 colour screenprints that portrayed animals from the Endangered Species Act of 1973: the Siberian tiger, San Francisco silverspot (butterfly), orangutan, Grévy’s zebra, black rhinoceros, African elephant, Pine Barrens tree frog, giant panda, bighorn sheep and bald eagle, whose populations had been decimated by habitat loss, illegal hunting and environmental factors such as the use of pesticides. Since 1983, when this series was produced, the situation has improved for some of these animals.
The bald eagle, which suffered from a decline in prey species as well as from the softening and subsequent destruction of their eggs from the pesticide DDT, has rebounded. In 1963, there were fewer than 1,000 of these raptors in North America; now there are over 300,000, and they have been removed from the endangered species list. Although it is a bird symbolic of the United States, it freely roams throughout North America. Populations in Canada have also increased, and they are often seen in the skies over Vancouver and on the west coast. Eagles go where their prey is, and in late winter they can be seen festooning trees and soaring in the updrafts above the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers near Squamish, British Columbia, when salmon return to spawn. The magnificent adult birds, with their white heads and tail feathers, are an awe-inspiring sight.
Warhol focuses on the head and shoulders of the eagle in profile, with its piercing golden eye gazing left. The close-up view makes the eagle appear to loom, as though larger than life, and its placement on the diagonal gives it a dynamic feel. Its powerful hooked beak is emphasized with a bright orange colouration. The upper part of its outspread wings against the backdrop of sky gives the impression of the eagle being either poised for flight or actually soaring. Warhol produced different versions of this print with varying colours. This is the blue colourway, stunning with its cobalt and turquoise background / sky. The artist drew mauve, yellow and red coloured lines on the screenprint of the photograph to emphasize outlines and give a sense of animation to the image. Warhol had an unerring eye for a strong image, and his eagle is alert, focused and ready for action.
The prints, numbered in Roman numerals within each edition, were given to wildlife organizations for fundraising projects. Following the success of the Endangered Species prints, Warhol worked with Kurt Benirschke of the San Diego Zoo to produce a book titled Vanishing Animals, for which Warhol provided the illustrations. The suite of screenprints was exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in New York and other natural history museums throughout the United States.
This image was printed on Lenox Museum Board. The edition is of 150, aside from 30 AP, 5 PP, 5 EP, 3 HC, 10 numbered in Roman numerals, 1 BAT, 30 TP, each signed and numbered in pencil. The edition was printed by Rupert Jasen Smith in New York and published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc., New York.
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD
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