Comprising solely of a flat, vibrant fiery-red silkscreen image of Warhol emblazoned like a single and dramatic paint-splash over the black void of the canvas, this vast, nearly three-metre-square Self-Portrait is an imposing, haunting and ultimately poignant work from Warhol's great last series of self-portraits made in 1986. One of what is believed to be only five versions (green, blue, purple, yellow and here, red), made on this monumental scale, this vast but simple, even in some ways minimalist, image of the artist's famous but time-worn face peering tentatively out from under the wild hair of his instantly-recognizable 'fright-wig' is one of the great self-portrait images of the Twentieth Century. A comparatively rare self-exposure, the painting is a typically seamless fusion of painting and photography within one instantly unforgettable image. A vast, and somewhat morbid, icon of an icon, it is also, like so many artists' late self-portraits throughout history, a timeless portrait of a visibly aging master confronting the inevitability of his own imminent disappearance from the light of existence, in death.
Warhol’s last series of self-portraits are among the most iconic, moving and ultimately profound works of his entire career. Among the very last paintings he executed before he did indeed suffer a premature and unexpected death - following complications that arose after a routine operation on his gall bladder in February 1987 - this series of self-portraits have consequently gained a prescience and an uncanny sense of timeliness that has done much to reinforce the legend of Warhol as a modern-day seer. The 'somewhat unearthly... and terrifying oracle' as Calvin Tomkins once described him, who 'made visible what was happening in some part to us all', seems here, in these works, to be foreseeing intimations of his own death. (Calvin Tomkins, 'Raggedy Andy' in Andy Warhol exh. cat., Eindhoven. 1970. p. 10.)