Printed in 1985, Rebel Without A Cause (James Dean) (F. & S. II.355) is a screen print by Andy Warhol that captures his passion for and interest in popular culture. This print of a Japanese film poster for the 1950s film, Rebel Without a Cause,depicts James Dean as the troublemaking teenager, Jim Stark. Printed on Lenox Museum Board, this image contains an element of nostalgia, harking back to the 1950s, the era in which Warhol rose to fame.
The image is rendered in unlikely colours, with bold black and green gestural lines delineating Dean’s body against a vibrant red backdrop. Dean dominates the right side of the print with a repetition of the actor appearing faintly in the centre of the print. The left of the composition shows the film’s title in duotone blue Japanese script.
Rebel Without A Cause (James Dean) (F. & S. II.355) is part of a series of ten screen prints in Warhol’s Ads series, produced by the artist in 1985, two years before his death. In this series, Warhol took icons of American consumer culture and reproduced them using rich, luminous colours. The inspiration for this series can clearly be traced back to Warhol’s early career as a commercial illustrator in New York.
The bright and bold colours of this print reflect Warhol’s celebration of popular culture and his transformation of the everyday culture into art. Indeed, Wahrol was a pioneer whose art contributed significantly to the blurring of the boundaries between high and low culture that came to characterise the postmodern movement of the late 20th century.