At Vertu, we aim to promote modern art by collecting a broad range of artworks from modern artists creating artworks in various styles. We enjoy seeing new prints by artists that take their inspiration from a wide range of cultural, philosophical and even political influences. But, of course, our gallery would not be complete without prints by the most infamous contributors to modern art, like Andy Warhol.
The Rise of Pop
Pop art was one of the most celebrated art movements of the mid twentieth century. Pop radically departed from other art movements at the time, which largely centered around ideas that originally came from movements such as Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Many of these movements encouraged the idea of unconscious painting, which was all about the artist allowing his artistic expression to flow freely from within without really giving it (conscious) thought. In Abstract Expressionistic works of the time, artwork was largely based on exploring color, contrast and shape, created not necessarily to illustrate something specific, but rather to be its own object.
When Pop art was born, it was a whole new style. These artworks were usually based on things that were popular in everyday life. Celebrities, movies, comic books and major brands were now being featured in paintings and prints that were fully recognized by enthusiasts as being “real” art. No longer was art defined as something unattainable or overly eccentric for ordinary people to appreciate. Pop art encouraged the idea that art should be likable to ordinary people as well by incorporating things that were already “popular.”
Andy Warhol’s Pop Art
Andy Warhol’s name has become synonymous with the of Pop Art movement. The artist is largely considered to be one of the most influential contributors to Pop art as a style. Some of his peers included artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and Jasper Johns.
It should come as no surprise that Warhol introduced a commercial perspective to the higher art world, as some of his early works actually included designing album covers and promotional materials for a record company. Most likely, Warhol started to realize that he could blur the line between high and low art at the time he was creating these commercial designs.
Although he’d started experimenting with it before, Warhol first brought popular culture into his fine art in 1962, when he held an exhibition at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery. This exhibition included some of his most famous pieces, such as Marilyn Diptych, Coke Bottles and 100 Dollar Bills.
With many of Warhol’s paintings and prints centering very strongly around ideas regarding popular culture, it came as no surprise that he often took to creating interesting prints of the most renowned celebrities of the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. Multiple silkscreen paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Harry, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana marked some Warhol’s most well-known paintings.
Warhol’s first celebrity silkscreen painting that gained a large amount of public attention, was Marilyn Diptych. The artwork that was unveiled to the world shortly after Marilyn Monroe’s death, shows multiple pictures of the actress in full color on the left, while images on the right are in black and white. Many believe that the distorted nature of the images on the left was to show how her life had become in her latter years.
The contribution Warhol made to modern art will never be forgotten. And many are still mimicking Warhol’s infamous style to create pieces of today’s most high-profile celebrities. Warhol’s legacy lives on, and he’s seen as perhaps the most famous artists of the twentieth century. Interestingly enough, painting the rich and famous led Warhol to become one of the few artists to have enjoyed celebrity status.