Crystal Bridges Announces Warhol Acquisitions
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville, Ark., announces a series of new acquisitions of works by artist Andy Warhol that includes two gifts and a recent purchase. The works are exhibited, together with works already in the Crystal Bridges collection, in the museum’s Twentieth-Century Art Gallery.
First among the recent acquisitions is Warhol’s Coca-Cola , which has previously resided in private collections. Painted in 1962, this bold, graphic, black-and-white image is one of four Coca-Cola paintings produced by Warhol during this critical period in his development, in the early days of Pop Art. “This is one of the great icons of early Pop,” says Crystal Bridges President Don Bacigalupi. “In it, Warhol celebrates Coca-Cola as an ‘equalizer’—it’s the same product for anyone who drinks it, anywhere in the world, rich or poor. The work presents a bold image at large scale, signaling Warhol’s transition from a commercial illustrator to Pop artist.”
As a counterpoint to this iconic signature image, the second of the recent Warhol acquisitions presents Warhol at an earlier stage. The untitled work, depicting a sleeping woman and man, was created by Warhol as a student at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and has been in a single private collection. A classmate of Warhol’s, Martha Sutherland, purchased the painting directly from the artist in 1949, when he still went by the name Andrew Warhola—the work is signed on the reverse with “WARHOLA” in pencil.
“This painting exemplifies the young artist’s capability as a draftsman even before moving into his early career as an illustrator,” explains Bacigalupi. “His consummate skill can be seen in the beautifully drawn hands in the work.”
“The painting is a rare discovery, as it has had a single owner since it was created and has never before been seen publicly. Martha Sutherland and Andy Warhol were classmates when she admired his work and bought the completed painting directly from the artist. She maintained and cared for the painting for 64 years, and it occupied a place of pride in her home,” adds Bacigalupi. “She did speak with the author of Warhol’s catalog raisonné, but the painting was excluded when the author died before gathering complete information on this work. Now, we have the rare opportunity to share this significant discovery—an extremely early painting by Andy Warhol—with our Crystal Bridges audience.”
Since 1958, Sutherland has kept the painting in the Arkansas home that she shared with her late husband Cyrus, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and leader in the movement to preserve Arkansas’ historic buildings. She and her family made the decision to donate the work to Crystal Bridges because they felt strongly that the painting should be publicly seen and appreciated.