Andy Warhol, affectionately known as the “Pope of Pop Art,” was responsible for many of the most iconic works in art history. In the 1960s, he rose to notoriety by focusing on quintessentially American products, ads, and personalities, creating work in media such as silk-screening, photography, video, and sculpture. Some of his works are among the most expensive pieces of art ever sold, and in this article, we’ll look at Andy Warhol’s top paintings.
Warhol painted the 1962 Marilyn Diptych in honor to the late Marilyn Monroe, who died the same year after overdosing on barbiturates. It is widely regarded as one of his greatest works. The left side of the artwork is in color, while the right is in a deliberately hazy black and white version of the actress’s promotional shot for the film Niagara.
Marilyn Diptych combines two of Warhol’s most recurring themes: death and the celebrity cult. The recurrence of Monroe’s picture depicts her pervasive media presence, with the juxtaposition of vibrant colors with black and white evoking her demise. The artwork has been acclaimed for capturing Monroe’s legacy, and The Guardian named it the third most significant piece of contemporary art.
Campbell’s Soup Cans
Warhol often exploited common imagery from consumer society in his art, probably most notably in his Campbell’s Soup Cans painting. The initial series consisted of 32 canvases, each of which depicted a different kind of soup supplied by the firm at the time. When Warhol initially unveiled the work in 1962, the canvases were arranged on shelves like items in a grocery store. Each one is hand-painted, with a fleur-de-lys design hand-stamped on the bottom border of the cans.
The Campbell’s Soup Cans series is reminiscent of the era’s mass-produced printed commercials, and Warhol picked this specific product owing to his love of painting everyday objects, as well as his affinity for the soup itself. After Warhol’s death, the artwork was sold to the Museum of Modern Art for upwards of $15 million.
While Warhol was not originally interested in cows, he chose to include them in his work when art dealer Ivan Karp said, “Why don’t you paint some cows, they’re so gloriously pastoral and such an enduring image in the history of the arts?” And so it came to pass, with Warhol completing the first Cow Wallpaper in 1966 and continuing to the series throughout the 1970s.
Each Cows screen print has vibrantly colored cows on a contrasting color backdrop, with the image selected by Warhol’s in-house printer Gerard Malanga. Pink Cow on Yellow Background (1966), Brown Cow with Blue Background (1971), Yellow Cow on Blue Background (1971), and Pink Cow on Purple Background (1966) were the four-color schemes used in the series (1976).
In 1973, Warhol made his Mao paintings in reaction to US President Richard Nixon’s encounter with the Chinese leader the previous year. This event resolved decades of diplomatic hostility between the two nations and caught the artist’s imagination, driving him to create hundreds of Mao paintings, some as huge as 15 ft x 10 ft.
This artwork, on the other hand, is not a celebration of Mao, with graffiti-like splashes of color and blue eyeshadow actually defacing his picture. Indeed, many critics feel this illustrates the freedom of self-expression afforded to artists in the West, as opposed to the communist propaganda represented by the original painting.
No artwork, perhaps, depicts mass identification, wealth, and prosperity more than Warhol’s colossal Dollar Sign. The artwork portrays the junction of riches and art, both of which are regarded luxury goods in their own right and was inspired by his lifelong fascination with sparkle and glamour. The acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas artwork repeats the American dollar symbol in vivid neon hues. Warhol created the source picture for the series by himself since he couldn’t locate one that he thought was dramatic enough elsewhere.
The Flower Series
The Flowers series, a notable departure from Warhol’s normal themes of fame and materialism, was inspired by pictures made by Patricia Caulfield and released in 1964. ShaperoModern says Warhol experimented with various flower hues, ranging from vivid pink and orange in one print to completely white in another. In other prints, he deviates completely from the basic design, creating shadows of many flowers. Caulfield went on to sue Warhol for unlawful use of her picture, which is almost funny considering how many years he spent copying trademarked product labels. The dispute was ultimately resolved out of court.
Warhol’s Camouflage series was published only a few months before his death in 1987, making it his last print portfolio. His studio aide Jay Shriver, who was experimenting with pressing paint through military fabric, offered the concept. The camouflage design may have appealed to Warhol’s fascination with companies and logos, while the realistic pattern related to his interest in Abstract Expressionist painting.
Warhol combined this motif with psychedelic hues in order to completely disrupt the notion of camouflage as a mask, as well as its utilitarian and militaristic overtones. Camouflage was only shown once in its original form, during a group exhibition in New York in 1986, and is presently on display at the ARTIST ROOMS at National Galleries of Scotland, a traveling series in conjunction with Tate.
Warhol not only managed The Velvet Underground, but he also painted the cover of their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The banana on early versions was accompanied by the phrase “Peel Slowly and See” and was covered with a banana skin sticker that viewers could draw back to expose a flesh-colored fruit underneath – a deliberately phallic picture. The album cover became one of the most famous of all time, and early editions (with the sticker intact) are now highly sought-after collector’s items.
These are the most prominent paintings of Andy Warhol. Take a look at these paintings and you will end up with finding the best ones to your collection.