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Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe Prints

Marilyn Monroe died of an apparent suicide in early August of 1962; shortly thereafter the famed Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints were exposed to the world. They were a series of silkscreens that depicted an identical shot of Marilyn Monroe in a variety of colors. With the silkscreen process, a picture was blown up and transferred into glue and then put onto silk. The ink would be absorbed by the silk, but would not penetrate through the glue, resulting in a slightly different image each time. The photo of Marilyn is taken from a publicity shot by Gene Korman for the 1953 film Niagara.

The artist’s message through Marilyn

Andy Warhol Posters - Marilyn Monroe 1964
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Warhol claimed that he liked the assembly-line effect of the Marilyns. In his art studio, which he nicknamed “The Factory”, he had numerous assistants churning out authentic reproductions of his paintings. He was an iconic artist who embodied the idea of mass production. He mass-produced paintings that were in themselves mass-produced themes: figures such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, and items such as the Coca-Cola Bottle and the Campbell Soup Can. It is speculated that through these paintings, Warhol was making a two-fold statement. First, through the mass-production of his paintings, he was taking the exclusivity out of owning precious fine art pieces. If a wealthy businessman owned an Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe print, likewise so could the young aspiring folk singer down the street. In his own way, he was deeming everyone equal. Furthermore, by choosing subjects such as the popular faces of Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley, he was unifying American society. No matter the background, everyone could appreciate and relate to these themes.

The many faces of Marilyn
What is interesting to note in Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints is how they speak about life and how they could also convey morbidity. Warhol’s first image was titled “Gold Marilyn Monroe”. It depicted a small representation of Marilyn’s face in the middle of a gold background, an icon of American pop culture in a gilded frame. It possessed significant religious undertones. In the Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe print titled “Marilyn Diptych”, also created in 1962, a dichotomy exists. The side that is full of color seems to represent Monroe’s career, her public life, and her transformation from Norma Jean to Marilyn. It is vibrant and constant, and the images are very contrived. The hair is dramatically blond and her lips are an intense red. However, the other side of the piece is black and white and gradually fades as each image progresses. This is poignant and seems to represent Monroe’s vulnerability and mortality. In the last image of the black and white series, Marilyn’s face appears to be in a cloud; disappearing before your very eyes.

Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints were provocative, and blurred the lines of what is believed to constitute fine art. In Warhol’s view, art no longer had to depict lofty ideals and flawless techniques. With his Marilyns, he injected the art world with stardom and glamour. Warhol once said, “an artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” We can only speculate as to why Andy Warhol thought his Marilyns were good gifts, but we agree that it is a pleasure to receive them.



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