“In the age of Instagram,” suggests James Sevier, contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s, “Warhol’s fabled prediction that ‘in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes’ has never felt more prophetic.” This comes as Warhol’s very own Instagram-esque self-portrait goes up for auction on the 28th June. Sotheby’s predict that the print, originally taken in 1963, snapped in a photo booth in New York, will be auctioned for an estimated price of between £5-7 million.
The timing of such a sale could not be more appropriate, as the culture of the selfie becomes something no longer possible to ignore. There is also a strong bid for Warhol to be the idol of the modern era’s obsession with the exterior, at a time when millions of photos are taken of our own faces, our food, our possessions, every day. His position as a precursor, or perhaps a warning of this kind of culture, gives him the respect shown to any artist who correctly predicted where time would take us. It is with Orwell that he presides as our century ages precariously.
In the description of ‘Self-Portrait’ on Sotheby’s site, another quote from Warhol is reproduced: “If you want to know about Andy Warhol, then just look at the surface of my pictures, my movies and me and there I am: there’s nothing in between.” Today we have combined this with his infamous ’15 minutes’ aphorism. It is the desire for many on Instagram and Twitter to construct an image of perfection, for the world to only ‘look at the surface’, at the filters and cropped photos. Like Warhol, we develop and present fictional lives through our online personalities. And if anything was ever the epitome of receiving that ‘fabled’ fifteen minutes, it is social media, where names and trends sprout and dissolve within days, sometimes even hours. A post can collect over 10,000 likes one week, and the creator of it be unknown the next.
‘Self-Portrait’ will inevitably reach the predicted auction price, and likely even exceed it, given the momentum of the selfie and its significance. As the line between the public and celebrity is blurred and the narcissism of Hollywood is democratised, Warhol’s work will grow alongside it in both value and prescience.
Feature Photo Credit: Sotheby’s