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Andy Warhol Paintings

Warhol’s art career began as a commercial illustrator which he was extremely successful at. He eventually began to move from illustrations to fine art. Pop art was a movement that was emerging in the mid 1950s from Britain and in the late 1950s from the United States. Warhol experimented with this new style as well, turning commercial popular subjects into his painting’s subject matter. He began with images from cartoons and advertisements creating his paintings with paint drips.

Looking for a new subject matter, in the 1960s, Warhol began painting objects that he loved. These paintings became extremely popular and he was established as the leader of the American Pop Art movement. The straightforward depiction of these banal objects became a familiar trademark of his style. Some of his famous works from this time include Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coke Bottles, and Disaster Paintings. He also drew on his love of celebrities and painted them as well, painting pop icons such as Marilyn Monroe.

By 1963 he was using the process of silk-screening to reproduce his work. He hired assistants to produce silk-screens in different versions and variations of the original, frequently using garish colors. Initially he had his sights set on working on one ‘signature’ subject matter however instead he developed a signature style. He obtained his inspiration from popular culture but emboldened the color and altered the scale to make the images larger than life. He redefined realism and broadened its perception. His works can be placed into three categories, commercial products, celebrities, and disaster pictures.

Another trademark of his is the monotonous repetition of his multi image mass-produced silkscreen printings. An example of this are his 30 silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe following her tragic death in 1962. Each painting uses the same public newspaper photograph of the star. The repeated image portrays a series of color changes.

In the 1970s and 1980s Warhol exhibited his works in galleries around the world. His painting also began to transition to more paintings of public figures such as Mao Tse-tung, Philip Jackson, and Mick Jagger. His paintings became softer and used more delicate imagery than his previous works. His art moved away from the more realistic images and closer to an abstract expressionist style.

In 1983 he produced a series of ten ‘Endangered Species” color prints including Pine Barrens Tree Frog, Orangutan, Bald Eagle, and Giant Panda. He used his signature style of bright color and expressions which suggest the animal’s fate that creates a tension between reality and art. He also produced a series of ten prints called Jewish Geniuses, which he received much criticism for. At this point in his career Warhol began to be criticized as being simply a “Business artist” out just to make money. However, later it was said that this was a bit of genius as he was simply shining a mirror on the American culture of the 1970s.

In the end Warhol left us with visual documents of some of the important elements from America’s consumer minded society in a postwar era.