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Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe Painting as a Great Example of Pop Art

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Andy Warhol was an influential artist, designer, and printmaker, known for being a leader in the pop art movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which stressed a major shift away from traditional themes in art and toward modernism. With the art of Warhol and his contemporaries, the subject matter became far from traditional ‘high art’ themes of morality, mythology, and classic history; rather, pop artists celebrated commonplace objects and people of everyday life, in this way seeking to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art. Nowadays pop art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art. Pop art started its movement in London thanks to an independent group of artists who were attracted to advertisements that depicted American mass culture and materialism. In this regard, everything mass culture, whether music, ads or dance, became the primary subject of British pop art. This movement changed the perspective of art and the way viewers look at it. Warhol’s artwork introduced a new form of artistic expression.

Andy Warhol, original name Andrew Warhola, was born on 1928, in Pennsylvania. When he was a kid, he developed a disease which confined him to bed. To keep him entertained his mother gave him drawing lessons. So, he fell in love with the medium. He studied commercial art in Carnegie Mellon University. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design in 1949. His artwork contains a variety of media including printmaking, performance art, filmmaking, painting, silkscreen printing, video installation, writing, photography, and sculpture. The world was fascinated with Warhol, his unique style, his attitude, and aesthetic. However, he got a lot of bad comments about his work. Some of his artwork made people confused and even angry. He got some bad reviews and comments from the media when he first started. He created a museum in New York. This was to support the creation of contemporary visual art. Warhol died on February 22, 1987, in New York City. His legacy still lives on in the art world and history. Warhol helped society see art from another perspective.

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Warhol’s most sold pieces feature female celebrities. Warhol made celebrities like Monroe even more popular and famous after their deaths. Even though he made a lot of artworks, the one that caught my eye is ‘Marilyn Monroe’. Here, Warhol’s technique is called serigraphy, or silkscreen printing, a popular technique used for mass production. The medium is silkscreen ink on synthetic polymer paint on canvas. In ‘Marilyn Monroe’, Warhol uses colors, form, contrast and bold lines to outline the features of the beautiful Marilyn Monroe. This type of artwork is representational. There is a different color background, and then there is the person’s face, which takes up the most space and makes it the center of attention. The emphasis in this piece is her face, which creates a focal point. The form of this artwork looks like it has a three-dimensional look, but the work has a two-dimensional form. The shape of artwork is flat. It has some sharper shapes that are more defined than others. The colors and values of the print are very bright and light. This makes it more pleasant to look at. All the bright colors and their contrast draw the viewer’s attention immediately. There are bright attracting colors and complimentary colors with the yellow, pink, and green. In this painting, Warhol uses thin lines on Monroe, taking the viewer to her eyes and face. He has used a smooth texture in this work with one solid color in the background. The image’s balance is symmetrical. The gradation changes from dark hue to light hue, this is called chiaroscuro. It has a repetitive harmony; we see a repetition of her face, representing mass production. Viewers also see a variety of colors: primary, secondary, tertiary. Every color in every image conveys different sensations. He uses saturated colors: reds, blues, yellows. Each different color affects the mood. This piece is stable; it does not move. The dimensions of this piece are 6’ 11 1/4” x 57”. Each image from the portfolio is sized 36 x 36”, considerably large and a closer crop of Monroe’s face.

The subject of this artwork is Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the consequences of mass media images in people’s everyday lives. Warhol’s art was created to remind audiences and fans, that there is actually a real person behind all the fame and glamour. Perhaps he wanted to describe to the world that these famous women were regular human beings that experienced pain and suffering, despite their celebrity. By creating repetitive imagery, Warhol brings to mind her ever-present celebrity status. Warhol’s repetition also shows that Monroe had become a brand rather than a person. By obscuring her appearance, Warhol demonstrates that the personality of Marilyn Monroe was more important to him than her physical looks. Warhol was obsessed with the power of popular culture and Marilyn Monroe is a perfect example of how the public had become obsessed with people solely for their physical appearance. Warhol believed that underneath the filter that the media cast over Marilyn Monroe, there lay a woman much different than what the public took her to be. When I first saw this artwork, I was dazzled. The actress looks at us seductively from under heavy-lidded eyes and with parted lips; but her expression is also mysterious. I chose this artwork because it brings a strong message to our society. I really liked the colors he used to create this artwork.

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