Sunset Andy Warhol
Find out more about Andy Warhol’s Sunset series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Andy Warhol was one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century, famed for his obsession with celebrity and consumer culture. These themes pervaded much of Warhol’s work, as he sought to comment on American capitalism whist creating some of the most iconic and enduring images in the history of Pop Art. However, the Sunset series, which is revered as one of the most expressive portfolios of Warhol’s career, strays away from the territory of celebrity culture.
Warhol’s Sunset series was produced in 1972, commissioned by renowned architects Johnson & Burgee to be installed in their newly renovated Hotel Marquette in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The series consisted of 472 unique colour variations for installation in the hotel, in addition to 160 prints that were assembled in to 40 unique portfolios.
Astonishingly, all of the Sunset prints were produced using only three screen prints: one to apply the background strips of colour, one for the sun and one with a single-colour dot pattern to provide texture. Warhol then inked the screens in a range of colour combinations and printed them with varying registration to create a total of 632 unique screen prints on smooth woven paper.
With this technique the portfolio became widely regarded as the archetypal example of colour serialisation in contemporary art. This allowed Warhol to explore the range of graphic possibilities in a single image, manipulating colour and creating contrasting effects with each repetition. Individual prints in the series therefore evoke varying sensations and emotions based on their colour spectrum.
For example, Sunset (Red) depicts a harmonious mixture of red hues with the dark red sun as the focal point, becoming one of Warhol’s most desirable in the series due to its simplicity. By contrast, in Sunset 85 is perhaps a less conventional sunset with shades of light turquoise, green and beige blending together to create the horizon around the bold yellow sun.
The images for each screen print were stills from several reels of film shot by Warhol in East Hampton, San Francisco and New York. This marked the beginning of a shift in Warhol’s career toward using his own photography as the basis for his screen prints, a technique that he later utilised in his representations of Muhammad Ali and Mick Jagger.
The Sunset prints have since been removed from the Hotel Marquette and signed, numbered and stamped. However, they remain amongst the rarest portfolios of Warhol’s career. Warhol produced nearly 800 printed images on paper, in addition to hundreds of trial proofs and unique variants of each of his portfolios. His work contributed significantly to what has been described as the ‘print boom’ of the 1960s. Warhol went on to set up his print publishing company Factory Additions, which continued to issue portfolios of his most recognisable themes.
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