Hammer and Sickle Andy Warhol
Find out more about Andy Warhol’s ‘Hammer and Sickle’ series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
In 1977 Warhol created two portfolios choosing to detail a hammer and sickle, Hammer and Sickle and Hammer and Sickle (Special Edition) were presented as still life studies. The subject stems from a visit to Italy in the 1970s where Warhol was exposed to urban graffiti, much of which featured the Communist image of the hammer and sickle. The image had been reproduced in this way over and over and Warhol decided to use it too, appropriating it to create mass-produced imagery.
Warhol worked by sourcing books depicting the symbol, which were flat in appearance, and developed the concept of producing an image that more closely resembled a still life with tools brought from a hardware shop. Warhol arranged the tools into various positions and his then assistant, Ronnie Cuttrone photographed them. “To Andy, they were an extension of the classic still life. For years I had been photographing still lifes for Andy… he loved to experiment and update classical themes. For him, it was the best part of making art.” – Ronnie Cutrone.
These portfolios give a fascinating insight into Warhol’s print making methods and techniques since it is the only published print series to detail the stages of the print making process. This may have been due to the fact that the Hammer and Sickle Series marks Warhol’s new partnership with printmaker Rupert Jasen Smith.
Both of the Hammer and Sickle portfolios were screen prints in colour produced on Strathmore Bristol paper, made from cotton. Each print is signed and numbered in pencil. Hammer and Sickle from a print run of 50 (plus artist proofs, printer’s proofs and one hors commerce (meaning ‘not to sell’) and the second which is the special edition portfolio comprising of just 10 screen prints on Strathmore Bristol paper, each from a small print run of 10 limited edition multiples.
Warhol uses the simplicity of the overtly recognisable and symbolic Communist emblem where we see the hammer and sickle overlapping each other like an ‘X’, and the iconoclastic colours of Soviet propaganda – red, white and black - to address ideological, political and social issues circulating through mass-produced imagery.
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