As part of Andy Warhol’s final print series Camouflage (1987) published just before his death in the same year, Camouflage (F. & S. II.409) is one of the artist’s most fascinating prints. It shows an appropriated image of camouflage pattern that was commercially available at the time, coloured by Warhol in deep magenta, light pink, orange and yellow. Warhol subverts the subject of pure abstraction, turning an appropriated camouflage pattern into a study of flamboyant colour and form that does not disguise or conceal.
The Camouflage series is made up of eight screen prints showing the commercial camouflage pattern, each coloured in a unique combination of vivid, flat colours. With a distinct lack of focal point, this print has an all-over composition much like the celebrated Abstract Expressionist paintings by figures like Jackson Pollock. Warhol deliberately subverts the grandeur of the Abstract Expressionists in his use of readily available, mundane patterns that he then repeats multiple times across the series.
Throughout his career, Warhol rallied against the ideals of ‘high art’ that were upheld by his predecessors in the Abstract Expressionist movement who insisted on the separation of art from everyday life. In this print, by appropriating already existing imagery to embody the principles of abstraction Warhol questioned traditional concepts of authorship, originality and reproduction. Stripping abstraction of all its traditional connotations of originality and freedom, Warhol successfully silences his critics and mocks Abstract Expressionism through the realm of Pop Art.