Printed in 1978, Gems (F. & S. II.88) is a signed screen print in colour on Strathmore Bristol paper by Andy Warhol. The print depicts a large emerald, a precious gem that is emblematic of wealth and glamour. The print is rendered in green and pink against a peach-coloured backdrop. The gem occupies the centre of the composition, with a pink shadow that encapsulates Warhol’s playful use of colour. Black gestural lines are used to add dimensions to the gemstone, making the print more dynamic.
Gems (F. & S. II.88) is part of the Gems series. This series is composed of four prints, each one depicting a precious gemstone. Warhol himself was an avid jewellery collector, however his impressive jewellery collection was not discovered until after his death in 1987. The series was produced towards the end of Warhol’s career and marks his expressive turn. The experimental use of lines and colour in the print and playful approach to traditional still life drawing is characteristic of the series which contrasts with the mechanical aesthetic of his earlier work, such as the Campbell’s Soup series.
In this print, Warhol subverts traditional still life drawing with his Pop Art aesthetic. This experimentation reflects the development of his career from starting out as a freelance commercial illustrator for fashion magazines such as Glamour, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s. In this series, Warhol returns to depicting inanimate objects, however these gemstones are significantly more glamorous than the shoes and everyday fashion accessories he started off drawing.