Pop Art – Andy Warhol essay

Andy Wahrol is one of the most outstanding artists of the 20th century. Traditionally, he is associated with pop art as probably no other artist. The media called him the Prince of Pop and he was really successful since he made his way fromPittsburgh working class family to an American legend. It is necessary to say that he was a broadminded person and he was not only a gifted painter but a founder and a major figure of pop art movement. Andy was very talented in drawing and painting but his first big break was in August 1949 when Glamour Magazine asked him to illustrate an article called “Success is a Job inNew York” (Rosenblum 1979). By 1955 Andy Warhol had almost all ofNew York copying his work. He was particularly well known for creating ink images with slight color changes that was his particular feature, which demonstrate his attention to color and its role (Hebdige 1995). Later this feature was even more evident and developed in his mature works. Also Andy Warhol was into doing popular items Coca-Cola and celebrity faces, like Marilyn Monroe and painting was his real passion. His “Campbell’s Soup Can” (see App.) is a classic and an easily recognized work of Andy’s. However, in 1960s he also created a series of films about time, boredom and repletion like “Empire” and “The Chelsea” (Crone 1970).

Working as an artist he wanted to remove the difference between fine arts and commercial arts and he also wanted to mass produce his own pop art. His favorite printmaking technique was silkscreen that came closest to his idea of proliferation of art.

On June 3rd, 1968, the event that significantly influenced his further life happened. On this day, Valerie Solanis shot Andy Warhol three times in the chest and he narrowly escaped the death. After this event he have never recovered fully that probably influenced his creative work. Since that time the philosopher of mass art production now spent most of his time making portraits of rich and affluent of his time like Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, and Brigitte Bardot and his work became more and more entrepreneurial and he said that “making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art” (Bockris 1987). Nonetheless he still remained a significant heritage in pop art.

Speaking about his works, a few may be taken for analysis, which may characterize his as an artist as well as his attitude to color. For instance, one of his most famous paintings “Orangedisaster #5” is very symbolic and typical for Warhol’s creative work. The painting represents the combination of bright yellow and black colors arranged in a proportionally divided set of squares. The combination of colors is quit contrasting for light yellow is combined with dark black. The painting has clear geometric forms. All these taken together produce quite a striking impression.

Such an impression may be explained by the conditions in which the painting was created and by what the artist implied by his work. At the period of creation of “Orangedisaster #5” Andy Warhol was extremely preoccupied with suicides, car accidents, assassinations, etc. and as a result the theme of death had become central in this particular painting. At the same time it is not only death itself that the painter wanted to underline. It is rather a combination of death, symbolically hidden in black colors, and life, which yellow colors symbolize. To a certain extent this work may be compared to some of the works of Robert Rauschenebrg and Jasper Johns, in which yellow color also plays a very important though, as a rule, different role. As for the theme, it is obviously to pessimistic compared to the themes that are traced in the works of the two artists mentioned above.

Practically the same theme, the theme of death may be traced in another painting of the artist, in his “Self Portrait”. This painting represents a portrait of the artist depicted in light green on the black background.

Probably, the artist felt the approaching of his death since his “Self Portrait” produces a very strong impression enforced by the choice of colors. The positive space of the portrait depicts a man who seems to be looking from another world, the world of death that is particularly impressive on the black negative space. It is one of the last self-portraits of the artist which may be considered anxious meditation of the aging artist. The monumental scale of “Self Portrait” suggests that Warhol’s obsession with celebrities encompassed himself.

By the way it is quite a unique work, which, being a characteristic of Andy Warhol, can be hardly found in works of Rauschenberg or Johns.

Finally, the painting “Cross”, created in 1981-82 (Hebdige 1995) is also another painting that may be referred to the theme of death though in this painting the death seems to be closer than ever before. To a certain extent this painting is similar to “Orange Disaster #5” because it also combines light yellow colored cross on the black background in such a way it underlines the symbolism of the painting and its main theme, the theme of death. But unlike “Orange Disaster #5”, in “Cross” any traces of the combination of life and death can be hardly found.

Probably, it is the Warhol’s pessimism that makes his paintings so different from works of other artist, which will be analyzed in this research.

In general, on analyzing the three paintings discussed above, it is possible to say that gradually the theme of death became more and more significant for the painter and probably it is the result of assault and serious wounds the painter got after it. Nonetheless, he managed to convey his inner world, his emotion and feelings to other people with the help of his paintings and original color gamma.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Andy Warhol played extremely important role in the development of pop art, especially in the modern art. His works and attention to slightest details, his variations with color which became not only just a means of expression of the artist’s views, ideas, feelings, emotions, etc. but it also often symbolized something more important, more epic. In this respect, works by Andy Warhol are particularly noteworthy since they can show the extent to which they correspond to the basic trends of the pop art. Color is particularly important for pop art since Andy Warhol used amply the variations of colors and experimented with it. In fact, the changes in color symbolize different stages of the artist’s career.

Consequently, it may be treated as one of the major trends in his works as a representative of the pop art that would be continued in the future by new generations of artists.

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