Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol’s Marilyn series is distinctly recognisable. It is a vibrant and glamorous portrayal of the actress Marilyn Monroe that has become symbolic of 20th century popular culture. The series exemplifies Warhol’s pioneering printmaking technique, a medium that the artist found best suited his mission to reflect the icons and products of mass culture at the time.

Warhol was a highly experimental printmaker and the screen print technique allowed him to explore the range of graphic possibilities in a single image, manipulating colour and creating contrasting effects with each repetition. This act of printing and painting in multiple variations demonstrates Warhol’s playfulness with typical art processes that would lead him to a new phase of commercial painting.

“I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silk screening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face the first Marilyns.” — Andy Warhol.

Warhol first depicted Monroe shortly after her death in 1962 in the Marilyn Diptych, a series of screen print paintings based on a 20th Century Fox still taken by Gene Kornman from the 1953 film Niagara.

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