Andy Warhol is an artist who doesn’t need much of an introduction. His silkscreen images of Campbell Soup cans, Marilyn Monroe and dollar signs, to name but a few, are easily recognisable and also fetch for millions of dollars in international art auctions, making him one of the most commercially successful artists ever to have lived.
Starting his career off as a fashion illustrator using hand-painted drawings, Warhol later began to silkscreen his work via mainstream techniques. This in effect blurred the boundaries between art and commodity, with the dollar sign silkscreens epitomising this notion of art as capital exchange.
The digitally reproduced image above has only recently been rediscovered, having been salvaged from old Amiga floppy disks stored at the Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol was involved in the 1985 launch of the Commodore Amiga and was commissioned to produce digital images by the computer and electronics manufacturer as part of the launch. [A documentary about this recent discovery can be viewed online at the Carnegie Museum of Art.]
The original image for this work, Details of Renaissance Paintings (Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482) was produced in 1984 with acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen after Warhol significantly cropped a reproduction of Botticelli’s painting.
This silkscreen formed part of Warhol’s wider 1984 print collection entitled Details of Renaissance Paintings, which also featured appropriated images from paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Ucello. Reproducing iconic, classical paintings was in a sense a way for Warhol to critique the traditional art market and highlight its commercial value. Classical paintings had already become part of mass consumption, appearing on souvenirs, biscuit boxes, postcards, etc, but what Warhol did was to re-interpret them in Pop Art form and emphasise their commercialism.
Subject for this topic is inspired by a new MOOC I am taking: Warhol, The university of Edinburgh.