Andy Warhol

It’s quite possible that Andy Warhol was one of the most prolific, celebrated and thought-provoking artists of the mid-century period in North America. Also possible? He was a pack rat!

Sixteen Jackies, 1964, Andy Warhol

As some of you will already know, the majority of Warhol’s output came from collecting – everything from trashy tabloids, to soup can labels to old photographs – and then reproducing these works to form insightful, an often cutting, remarks on contemporary society. He worked across a wide range of media, but is most well known for his silkscreen repetitions from the 1960s. To create these works he would isolate an individual image and then repeat the image several times over to create a large scale pattern with variations in colour. While the works are often printed with bright garish colours, their subject matter (or the stories behind them) often revealed a much darker picture of America and it’s values.

Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965, Andy Warhol

“Despite the stereotype of Andy Warhol as an art-world butterfly who reveled in pop imagery, bold colors and the ubiquitous landscape of American commercial culture, he harbored deep fears and insecurities that led him to an abiding fascination with the dark, violent underbelly of modern life — car wrecks, plane crashes, drug addicts, the electric chair, suicidal movie stars and the beautiful widow of a murdered president.” David Lubin, PhD, Wake Forest University

Little Race Riot, 1963, Andy Warhol

Does “Little Race Riot” remind you of any other pieces we’ve seen in the last few weeks?

While Warhol’s output was constant and vast, his collection of “source” material has far surpassed the yield of his production. Called “Time Capsules“, the artist kept all of his clippings and ephemera in plain cardboard boxes labelled by month and year. After his death in 1987 the collection was moved to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA where it is available to researchers by appointment.

"Time Capsules", The Warhol archives at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.