Andy Warhol prints and paintings have had a profound influence on the work of many Contemporary artists. The likes of Keith Haring, Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Damien Hirst have all referenced Warhol and his unmatched legacy in their own work.
In this article, we look at the many references to Warhol and his work that feature in the MyArtBroker Collection.
Inspired by the invention — and unstoppable rise — of Graffiti in New York City during the 1970s and 80s, Keith Haring began his artistic career as a street artist. He worked predominantly in the New York City subway, adorning its walls and advertising placards with dynamic, cartoon-like figures, and other symbols he called ‘Icons’. These were inspired by his time spent studying Semiotics at New York’s School of Visual Arts.
In the early 1980s, Haring met Andy Warhol — the godfather of America’s burgeoning Pop Art scene and owner of The Factory — an infamous art studio-come-nightclub in Manhattan.
The pair’s first meeting was brief. It was only after a show at the city’s Fun Gallery that the duo became closer.
Commenting on his relationship with Warhol, Haring commented:
Warhol’s impact on Haring was huge, pushing him to create more and more artworks.
In 1986, Haring issued an extremely limited edition of prints in 8 colours. Entitled the Andy Mouse series, these playful, graphic works see Haring combine two symbols of his most important influences: Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Andy Warhol himself.
In Andy Mouse 3, Haring’s Mickey/Warhol character is positioned at the centre of a US Dollar bill. His portrayal as an American icon on a par with Benjamin Franklin or Abraham Lincoln – two historical figures who feature on US currency – serves to highlight his importance in Haring’s eyes.
Following his diagnosis with HIV in 1987, and undeniably influenced by Warhol’s almost mechanical production process, Haring began to create much larger artworks, and at a rapid rate.
Painted between hospital visits and doctors’ appointments, his murals called for urgent scientific research into the virus – about which very little was known at the time – as well as the pressing need to protect yourself by practicing safe sex. One of his most famous, Todos Juntos Podemos Parar el SIDA (1989), was painted in Barcelona.
Although he was just 13 years-old when Warhol died, British Street Art legend Banksy has referenced the King of Pop Art in his own work.
Whilst Banksy’s iconic Choose Your Weapon references one of Keith Haring’s so-called ‘Icons’, Banksy’s Soup Can series seizes upon Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup can prints, reappropriating them for a British audience.
As the story goes, Warhol chose to make works featuring the Campbell’s soup tin because of its strong associations with capitalism, consumerism, and the American working class. In an interview, the artist even remarked that before he made his fortune, he had spent 20 years eating a tin of this very soup for lunch every day.
In his own version of these classic images, which also features in the Soup Cans (Quad) series, Banksy co-opts an icon of British consumer culture: the Tesco Value range.
Known for its no-frills design and instantly recognisable ‘blue lines’, the Value range was the mainstay of the cost-cutting consumer during the 1990s and early 2000s.
More generally, it could be argued that Banksy’s stencil-based designs – visible in standout works like Bomb Love and Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower) are indebted to Warhol’s ‘blotted line’ technique, as well as his use of an overhead projector to create ‘traced’ works, such as Grace Kelly (F.& S. 11.305) (1984).
Famed for his anatomical drawings and vivid, dynamic portrayals of Black American life, Jean-Michel Basquiat started out as a humble graffiti writer working on the streets of New York. Ascending to international recognition in the 1980s, Basquiat’s seemingly unstoppable rise was in part due to his friendship with Andy Warhol.
The pair first met when Basquiat spotted Warhol dining at the W.P.A. restaurant in Manhattan’s Spring Street with friend and curator, Henry Geldzahler.
In 1982, when Basquiat became the youngest ever artist to exhibit at documenta in the German city of Kassel – an art event that takes place every 5 years and a major influence on Gerhard Richter – he was granted a one-man show at the Zurich gallery of Bruno Bischofberger, who later became his art dealer.
Bischofberger arranged for Warhol and Basquiat to have lunch, and the pair instantly became friends. By 1983, Basquiat’s home and studio was located in a Manhattan loft owned by Warhol, who had become his patron.
In 1984 and 1985, the pair completed several collaborations, including the paintings Taxi 45th/Broadway (1984-5), Amoco (1984), and Untitled (50 Dentures) (1984).
Although perhaps he doesn’t quite succeed in fulfilling Warhol’s erstwhile role as the ‘bellwether of the art market’, Hirst has certainly been influenced by the Pittsburgh-born artist, both in terms of his artistic philosophy and striking visual style.
Commenting on Warhol’s continued importance within the contemporary art world, Hirst remarked:
Attracting large sums when under the hammer at auction, Hirst’s ‘Spot’ paintings and prints are his most obvious reference to Warhol.
Each named after a different drug, picked at random from a trade catalogue of biochemical and diagnostic reagents, these pieces’ titles include Methylthymidine (2008), Dequalinium Chloride (2016), and Phendimetrazine (2011). The reason for naming each work after a different drug was that it gave the series a seemingly endless scope – in theory, it could carry on forever.
Once they had begun to gain momentum, the Spot paintings were passed on to Hirst’s many assistants, who produced them in an almost mechanised fashion.
Following the lead of Warhol, who himself used a large number of assistants to produce screen prints on a mass scale at The Factory (in 1964 he was creating up to 80 prints a day), this was Hirst’s first forays into ‘art fabrication’.
Commenting on his use of assistants, Hirst once said: ‘… the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She’s brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel.’
The series Till Death Do Us Part (2011) also makes a thinly-veiled reference to Warhol’s Skulls from 1976 as well as his game-changing Marilyn Monroe and Mao paintings, produced during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In May 2022, one of these works, entitled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964), sold for US$195 million (£158 million) at Christie’s New York, making it the most expensive piece of 20th-century art ever sold.
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