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Andy Warhol - Marilyn Monroe

Andy Warhol: Marilyn Monroe - Andy Warhol chose the American diva Marilyn Monroe as his subject. The star is transformed by Warhol into an icon of mass culture and American society.

By choosing a subject well known to the general public Andy Warhol initiated a process of 'democratisation' of art. In fact, the aim of Pop Art lies in creating an art that is accessible and comprehensible to all, which speaks to the artist about reality and contemporary American society.

Set Descending Direction
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Set Descending Direction
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Marilyn Monroe - Andy Warhol: from Myth to Icon

With Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol identified the ideal subject to be transformed into an Icon. The artistic current of Pop Art is short for "Popular Art" with the characteristic of being usable by the people and reaching the masses.

The popularity of the American actress has a high potential to create a Pop Art work. The tragic death of the diva represents the possibility of reaching the masses. Pop Art already exploited celebrity culture, with this work Warhol can unite death with popularity, as was the life of the Hollywood actress.

Andy Warhol - Marilyn Monroe: 1962 Marilyn dies and Warhol discovers Screen Printing

In August 1962, Andy Warhol discovered the screen printing technique. This technique became Warhol's favourite and with which he created most of his artwork. On 5 August, the death of the popular actress Marilyn Monroe occurred. Her death was caused by barbiturate intoxication.

Whether it was suicide or murder remains a mystery. Marilyn's death shook the world and also Warhol. The King of Pop Art then decided to use Marilyn's face to produce silkscreens with the serial repetition offered by this printing technique. With the portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol created the series of contemporary art works that would become the most popular produced by the artist.

Indeed, it can be said that Marilyn is for Andy Warhol the most famous as well as the most important work of his career. In fact, when people think of Warhol they usually associate him with the paintings of Marilyn Monroe and vice versa.

With Marilyn Warhol's Niagara Film Publicity Photo Warhol makes her 'Portrait'

The fact that the actress was no longer alive follows the preclusion of new photos. It matters little as Warhol was already in the habit of choosing his subjects from popular images such as advertisements, magazines and even TV.

Even for the Marilyn Monroe Artwork, Andy Warhol relied on stock images. The eccentric Pop Art artist's choice fell on the image of an advertising poster for the film 'Niagara'. The film Niagara was made in 1953 and Marylin was one of the Casting Stars.

In this film, the character played by Marilyn dies tragically. This is perfect for the popular association of the actress' death with the collective imagination. The original picture is a photograph by photographer Gene Korman taken, as mentioned above for the promotion of the film.

The artist deliberately cropped Marilyn's face in his portrait. The image of Marilyn Monroe's face was then zoomed in by Warhol.

In this way, the viewer of the work focuses exclusively on the bewitching gaze, the sensual lips and the flawless star hairdo. From this basis, adapting the concept of repetition, Andy Warhol executed several versions of the work as we shall now see.

All Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

With the subject of Marilyn Warhol created a multitude of artworks by exploiting the flexibility of the screen-printing technique. The series in which Andy Warhol pays homage to the American diva are:

  • Marilyn Series (1962)
  • Marilyn Diptych (1962)
  • Shot Marilyn (1964)
  • Golden Marilyn Monroe (1967)