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Skull (F. & S. II.159)

Skull (F. & S. II.159)
Signed Print

Andy Warhol

Screenprint, 1976
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 76cm x W 102cm

Critical Review

As with his iconic Flowers series (1974), Warhol takes a playful approach to the art historical genre of still life painting, the subject of the skull making specific reference to ‘vanitas’ still lifes. Vanitas paintings in history were a reminder of human mortality and the fragility of life, and this deathly subject matter marks a shift in Warhol’s work, often linked to Warhol’s near-fatal shooting in 1968.

The exuberance of the pink, red, yellow and blue blocks of colour are at odds with the grave subject matter, giving the print an unsettling but striking character. In contrast to his earlier photographic portraits of famous individuals, the Skulls Series overthrows this by showing a subject devoid of any individuality. Of this, his assistant Cutrone once commented that to painting a skull ‘is to paint the portrait of everybody in the world.’ Through his obsessive repetition of the subject throughout his body of work, Warhol both desensitises and amplifies the permeating human condition of mortality.