10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Martha Graham

Written by - Charlotte Stewart
Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) by Andy WarholSatyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) © Andy Warhol 1986
Toni Clayton

Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist

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Andy Warhol's friendship group, like his entire Pop Art oeuvre, was star-studded. Throughout his life and career, Warhol was surrounded by A-listers who were hungry for the camera, and hungrier still for his. One unlikely but enduring friendship was formed between Warhol and Martha Graham, the legendary modern dancer and choreographer. This series is an homage to their friendship, and also to Warhol's admiration of her craft.

1.

The series was created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) by Andy WarholLamentation (F. & S. II.388) © Andy Warhol 1986

Martha Graham founded her Dance Company in 1926. Located in midtown Manhattan, the Martha Graham Dance Company is known as the oldest American dance company, driven by Graham's innovative approach to choreography. Warhol's 1986 series was created to commemorate the company's 60th anniversary, and raise funds to ensure its longevity.

2.

Graham was described as the 'Picasso of Dance'.

Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) by Andy WarholSatyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) © Andy Warhol 1986

Described as both the 'Grandmother of Modern Dance' and the 'Picasso of Dance', Graham revolutionised dance with her unique approach to choreography. Through expressive body language, Graham sought to convey the intricacies of the human experience and deep-seated emotions.

3.

The series is formed of three screen prints.

Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) by Andy WarholLetter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) © Andy Warhol 1986

Though Warhol created many iterations of his Martha Graham prints in different colours and configurations, the series is composed of three core images. Dynamic and emotive, Warhol pictured Graham in three dance stills: Lamentation, Satyric Festival Song and Letter To The World (The Kick).

4.

Warhol and Graham were friends.

Martha Graham by Andy WarholImage © Maruani Mercier / Martha Graham © Andy Warhol 1979

Warhol and Graham's friendship blossomed thanks to their shared admiration for each other's craft. As Graham said, “When I first met Andy, he confided to me that he was born in Pittsburgh as I was, and that when he first saw me dance ‘Appalachian Spring’ it touched him deeply”. Graham too was influenced by Warhol's creative spirit: “He touched me deeply as well. He was a gifted, strange maverick who crossed my life with great generosity. His last act was the gift of three portraits he donated to my company to help my company meet its financial needs.”

5.

Colour brings the emotive nature of Graham's dance style to life.

Letter To The World (The Kick) by Andy WarholLetter To The World (The Kick) © Andy Warhol 1986

Through his distinctly Pop application of colour during the printings process, Warhol altered the emotion laden in each of these prints. Though he represented the same three poses of Graham throughout, his variation of bold colour gives each print a unique poignancy.

6.

Graham famously created a language through movement.

Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) by Andy WarholLamentation (F. & S. II.388) © Andy Warhol 1986

Graham famously declared that ”dance is the language of the soul”. Through fluid movement, Graham believed that dance could reveal the depths of human emotion.

7.

The images in the series were taken in 1940 by Barbara Morgan.

Martha Graham performing “Letter to the World” by Barbara MorganImage © Creative Commons / Martha Graham performing “Letter to the World” © Barbara Morgan 1940

The photographs of Graham that are appropriated in this series were snapped by Barbara Morgan in 1940. Morgan's photographs are likely the most famous images of Graham, and a crucial part of her iconic image. Warhol's decision to use these particular photographs is typical of his Pop process, re-imagining the familiar images of mass media.

8.

Graham was the first dancer to perform at the White House.

Martha Graham by Andy WarholImage © Artsy / Martha Graham © Andy Warhol 1986

In 1937, Graham became the first dancer to perform at the White House. After dining with the Roosevelts, she performed a series of dances that she choreographed herself. Graham returned to the White House in 1976 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

9.

Warhol's graphic lines accentuate movement and emotion.

Letter to the World (The Kick) (Unique) by Andy WarholImage © Artsy / Letter to the World (The Kick) (Unique) © Andy Warhol 1986

By using his screen print to create multiple layers of repeated images, Warhol mimicked the dizzying movement of Graham on the stage. Particularly in his variations of Letter To The World (The Kick), graphic outlines of Graham's body seem to resemble her soul being set free by dance.

10.

Graham taught dance until she was 96-years-old.

Martha Graham by Andy WarholImage © Artsy / Martha Graham © Andy Warhol 1986

Graham was involved as a teacher of dance at her Dance Company throughout her life. Such was her commitment to her students and her craft that she continued to teach until her death in 1991, at the age of 96.

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Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Lamentation (F. & S. II.388) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Satyric Festival Song (F. & S. II.387) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

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$35,000-$70,000 VALUE (EST.)

$35,000-$70,000 VALUE (EST.)

¥170,000-¥330,000 VALUE (EST.)

25,000-45,000 VALUE (EST.)

$190,000-$390,000 VALUE (EST.)

¥3,210,000-¥6,410,000 VALUE (EST.)

$25,000-$50,000 VALUE (EST.)

Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) - Signed Print by Andy Warhol 1986 - MyArtBroker
Letter To The World (The Kick) (F. & S. II.389) Signed Print 
Andy Warhol

£25,000-£50,000 VALUE (EST.)

$45,000-$90,000 VALUE (EST.)

$40,000-$80,000 VALUE (EST.)

¥210,000-¥420,000 VALUE (EST.)

30,000-60,000 VALUE (EST.)

$240,000-$480,000 VALUE (EST.)

¥4,010,000-¥8,020,000 VALUE (EST.)

$30,000-$60,000 VALUE (EST.)

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