Commissioned in 1983 by New York gallerists and environmental activists Ronald and Frayda Feldman, Pines Barrens Tree Frog (F. & S. II. 294) is a print by Andy Warhol from his Endangered Species series. It shows a luminous image of the endangered Pines Barren tree frog coloured in bright red, green and yellow, and outlined in white to stand out against the dark background.
Produced to draw attention to the endangered species of the world, this series creates cultural icons of every animal from the Endangered Species Act of 1973, whose kaleidoscopic colours render them impossible to ignore. Telling of his passion for animals and ecological issues, Warhol knowingly used the power of his Pop Art icons and donated a number of these works in the series to raise money and awareness.
The series of ten prints echo one another in Warhol’s use of luminous colours, but at the same time their uniqueness points to the rarity of these animals that are given the ‘star treatment’ by the artist. Depicted like animals in makeup, due to their enhancement with unlikely hues, Warhol references his iconic portrayals of superstars and celebrities like in his Marilyn(1962) and Liz series (1964). Immortalising the image of an endangered animal into a Pop Art icon and elevating the Pines Barrens tree frog to the realm of fine art, Warhol’s print is a permanent reminder of the species’ closeness to extinction.