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Grapes

Andy Warhol’s Grapes (1979) series depicts, in each of six screen prints, different grape varieties. In his blocky application of bright colours and contrasting deep blues and purples, Warhol steers away from traditionally representational still-life, instead abstracting his subject into a heady collision of colours and loose linework.

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Meaning & Analysis

Warhol created Grapes in 1979: a series of repeated still life studies of bunches of grapes, branches and leaves in his signature style Each of the prints represents a different grape variety. Traditionally a still life genre strives for realism but Warhol instead treats the surface area with planes of realism, suggestion through outline and abstraction all in one. The work draws upon collage techniques through blocks of bright colours, contrasted with dark blues and purples. Some years earlier, in 1975, Warhol was commissioned as the artist of the iconic 1975 Mouton-Rothschild label, which incidentally uses similar colour schemes which he then drew upon with his portfolio Grapes D.D.

There are two portfolios that Andy Warhol produced for Grapes, each consisting of six screen prints on Strathmore Bristol paper which is made from cotton, and is signed and numbered in felt-tip pen. One from a print run of 50 (plus artist proofs, printer’s proofs and one hors commerce (meaning ‘not to sell’), and the second which is declared a special edition portfolio comprising of six screen prints, each from a small print run of 10 limited edition multiples, with one printer’s proof.

Grapes is a historically significant portfolio in Warhol’s print making career because it was the first time the artist experimented with a fine diamond dust on the appendix page. John Reinhold, a close friend of Warhol’s who used diamond dust in his own work said, “I gave him the first jar of diamond dust. Real diamond dust doesn’t sparkle but he played with it. I think what he in fact used is crushed glass. It didn’t work with real diamonds but that’s when he started to think about the idea.” This method was a technique in which Warhol would often tweak and develop the diamond texture, transitioning from using fine diamond and or glass particles, to a coarser crushed consistency. From this point onwards, Warhol developed the process of layering the substance on top of screen prints in many print runs.

10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Grapes

Grapes (F. & S. II.191) by Andy Warhol

Grapes (F. & S. II.191) © Andy Warhol 1979

1. Warhol took a unique approach to the still life genre in this series.

Though the still life genre, in Western art, is characterised by a pursuit of realism, Warhol's still lifes are treated almost like abstractions. Through his typical layering of vibrant inks, and graphic outlining by hand, Warhol's Grapes toy with realism. Like his earlier works that focused on consumable products, as with his Campbell's Soup and Brillo Box series, Warhol treats the organic grape bunch as a static object.

Diamond Dust Shoes (F. & S. II.254) by Andy Warhol - MyArtBroker

Diamond Dust Shoes (F. & S. II.254) © Andy Warhol 1980

2. This series was the first time Warhol experimented with diamond dust.

This still life series is historically significant in Warhol's oeuvre, as it was the first time that the artist experimented with diamond dust. Through his application of real diamond dust particles on the surface of his prints, Warhol added a luxe materiality to his screen prints. A close friend of Warhol's, John Reinhold, said of Warhol's use of diamond dust: “I gave him the first jar of diamond dust. Real diamond dust doesn’t sparkle but he played with it. I think what he in fact used is crushed glass. It didn’t work with real diamonds but that’s when he started to think about the idea.” After the Grapes series, Warhol continued to use diamond dust in other notable portfolios like Diamond Dust Shoes.

Grapes (F. & S. II.194) by Andy Warhol

Grapes (F. & S. II.194) © Andy Warhol 1979

3. Warhol created two portfolios for Grapes.

Warhol was clearly fascinated with this still life subject, as he created two Grapes portfolios, each consisting of six screen prints. One series was from a print run of 50, and the other special edition from a small print run of 10 limited edition multiples. In each of these series Warhol created a printer's proof, which were prototypes for the entire series.

Life Savers (F. & S. II.353) by Andy Warhol - MyArtBroker

Life Savers (F. & S. II.353) © Andy Warhol 1985

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