Warhol Works Wonder at Chalk & Vermilion
Andy Warhol didn’t invent pop culture. The American artist, director and producer used his camera, paintbrush, and imagination to herald it and make it an essential and prominent part of the American fine art landscape and mindset. Chalk & Vermilion Fine Art celebrates Warhol’s majesty, vision and continuing impact on modern Americana by offering a showcase of original works featuring beloved and iconic Hollywood legends.
In the 1960s, Warhol completed a series of works to coincide with his exhibitions at galleries and museums. At the time of their release, these works were merely considered to be posters. Warhol said, “I felt that if everyone couldn’t afford a painting the printed poster would be available.” (Source: Gerard Malanga, “A conversation with Andy Warhol” The Print Collectors Newsletter 1, January-February 1971, P.126).
Among these posters is a portrait of the hugely successful actress, Elizabeth Taylor, commonly known by her shortened name, Liz. Warhol first painted her portrait in 1963 at the height of her career. He used a publicity photo for Taylor’s film “Butterfly 8” as the basis for the screen print that typified his 1960s Pop style, with its vibrant slabs of color.
In the 1980s, Warhol blurred the lines between art and advertising with a series on enormously successful commercial advertisements. Like many of his other works, he chose to focus on celebrity.
American actress, dancer and singer Judy Garland was featured in a famous ad campaign selling Blackglama minks. The campaign was created by Jane Trahey (one of the first women to open and own an advertising firm in 1960) in which prominent leading ladies were used as the gimmick to promote Blackglama’s elegant products.
The women were to symbolize everything that the photo of the product (mink coat, etc.) could not convey on its own; their fame and beauty gave the furs a real sense of luxury and desirability. Fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon captured powerful images which Warhol went on to reinterpret in his screen prints.
Warhol’s ironic and amusing imagination was continually inspired by the seriality and impersonality of advertisements and the juxtaposition of celebrity. Among his art subjects was former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who was featured in a series of advertisements for Van Heusen dress shirts during Reagan’s career as an actor in the 1950s and 1960s. The Van Heusen highlights the “Golden Age of Advertising” in the 1950s with Reagan touting Van Heusen’s revolutionary “soft-folding” collar and their claim that the shirts “won’t wrinkle ever!”
Celebrities and sports figures became ideal spokespeople for advertisements in the 1950s as television colonized living rooms in America and shows like Reagan’s Law and Order made their actors and actresses household names. Warhol cleverly played with the original ad image, removing words and using color effects to present the picture more than 30 years after its initial creation, at a time when its celebrity subject had become president of the U.S.
Warhol also drew inspiration from movie posters. He reinterpreted the poster of Rebel Without a Cause, the 1955 classic movie which starred actor James Dean. Killed in a car accident less than a month before the film’s release, Dean is forever memorialized as a young, rebellious heartthrob. Warhol explores his interest in multiples through the layering and interpretation of Dean’s iconic image, in one sense glorifying his celebrity while more darkly hinting at the actor’s tragic end.
Warhol’s legacy continues to inspire today, and he has become an integral and permanent figure within the art world and its culture. His work is still among some of the most distinguished and highest grossing in history. In 1994, The Andy Warhol Museum opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to honor his legacy. Warhol’s art is also frequently exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Select Warhol works can be purchased at Chalk & Vermilion Fine Art at South Coast Plaza, located on Level 3, Penthouse.