Art Humanities Final IDs
Like Mozart in the Marriage of Figaro, the artist seems to be inserting his voice into this painting
The workers might even be looking at the basket of grapes
Interesting comparisons to literature
Create the idea of the “universa;” — using the nonfigurative to send a big and universal message
Issue of authorship
The prints were an artistic experiment: a medium for Goya’s condemnation of the universal follies and foolishness in the Spanish society in which he lived. The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic; he speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya described the series as depicting “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual”.
The work was an enlightened, tour-de-force critique of 18th-century Spain, and humanity in general. The informal style, as well as the depiction of contemporary society found in Caprichos, makes them (and Goya himself) a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters in particular has attained an iconic status.
Low horizon, looking out, stands out b/c of bright colors
At the time, Goy was still a court painting
He was private about his thoughts on the art, and was poor in health when he began to work on these prints
Breaks from many painterly traditions — shows the effects of conflict ont eh INDIVIDUAL. Abandons color in favor of more direct truth found in shadow and shade
In the early plates of the war grouping, Goya’s sympathies appear to lie with the Spanish defenders. These images typically show patriots facing hulking, anonymous invaders who treat them with fierce cruelty. As the series progresses, the distinction between the Spanish and the imperialists becomes ambiguous. In other plates, it is difficult to tell to which camp the distorted and disfigured corpses belong.
Rejecting the heroic dignity
Skill, intent, beauty
Beautiful irony– much more thoughtful
Could also have been more gruesome
Artist is trying to show TRUTH
The system of art also matters, which is state society
Comparison to Mychelangelo Studies for Libyan Sibyl
Comparison between this and Y no hay remedio
Diverging from the traditions of Christian art and traditional depictions of war, it has no distinct precedent, and is acknowledged as one of the first paintings of the modern era. According to the art historian Kenneth Clark, The Third of May 1808 is “the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention”.
Only black and white
Talk about in terms of SIGNS
Monet spent the summer of 1867 with his family at Sainte-Adresse, a seaside resort near Le Havre. It was there that he painted this buoyant, sunlit scene of contemporary leisure, enlisting his father (shown seated in a panama hat) and other relatives as models. By adopting an elevated viewpoint and painting the terrace, sea, and sky as three distinct bands of high-keyed color, Monet emphasized the flat surface of the canvas. His approach—daring for its time—reflects his admiration for Japanese prints. Twelve years after it was made, Monet exhibited the picture at the fourth Impressionist exhibition of 1879 as Jardin à Sainte-Adresse.
Painted within months of the first Impressionist exhibition, Geese in the Brook has the bright palette and thick impasto characteristic of Monet’s work of this period. Soft yellow and orange foliage sparkles in the sunlight and is reflected in the rippling water. A mother and child approach the open door of a sunlit farmhouse, while geese gather in the foreground. The work’s verticality, further emphasized by the tall trees enclosing the narrow path, is very rare in Monet’s paintings of rustic subjects. It may pay homage to the country scenes of Barbizon painters like Camille Corot and can perhaps be viewed as Monet’s attempt to adapt his avant-garde style to traditional subjects.
trying to make sense, give an order to this — reducing objects to their basic shapes
Reduce to geometric shape that make up all the sides of the work of art
reflection on the use of the female body and the violent deconstruction of it
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is one of the most important works in the genesis of modern art. The painting depicts five naked prostitutes in a brothel; two of them push aside curtains around the space where the other women strike seductive and erotic poses—but their figures are composed of flat, splintered planes rather than rounded volumes, their eyes are lopsided or staring or asymmetrical, and the two women at the right have threatening masks for heads. The space, too, which should recede, comes forward in jagged shards, like broken glass. In the still life at the bottom, a piece of melon slices the air like a scythe.
The faces of the figures at the right are influenced by African masks, which Picasso assumed had functioned as magical protectors against dangerous spirits: this work, he said later, was his “first exorcism painting.” A specific danger he had in mind was life-threatening sexual disease, a source of considerable anxiety in Paris at the time; earlier sketches for the painting more clearly link sexual pleasure to mortality. In its brutal treatment of the body and its clashes of color and style (other sources for this work include ancient Iberian statuary and the work of Paul Cézanne), Les Demoiselles d’Avignon marks a radical break from traditional composition and perspective.
Ma jolie (My pretty girl) was the refrain of a popular song performed at a Parisian music hall Picasso frequented. The artist suggests this musical association by situating a treble clef and music staff near the bold, stenciled letters. Ma jolie was also Picasso’s nickname for his lover Marcelle Humbert, whose figure he loosely built using the signature shifting planes of Analytic Cubism.
This is far from a traditional portrait of an artist’s beloved, but there are clues to its representational content. A triangular form in the lower center is strung like a guitar; below the strings can be seen four fingers; an elbow juts to the right; and in the upper half, what may be a floating smile is barely discernable amid the network of flat, semitransparent planes. So although the figure appears to disappear into an abstract network of flat, straightedged semitransparent planes, together these elements suggest a woman holding a musical instrument. Thus it manages to be both a representative piece of high Analytic Cubism, while at the same time representing a very traditional theme.
In Cubist works of this period, Picasso and Georges Braque employed multiple modes of representation simultaneously: here, Picasso combined language (in the black lettering), symbolic meaning (in the treble clef), and near abstraction (in the depiction of his subject).
Artwork description & Analysis: In this work, Picasso challenges the distinction between high art and popular culture, pushing his experiments in new directions. Building on the geometric forms of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Picasso moves further towards abstraction by reducing color and by increasing the illusion of low-relief sculpture. Most significantly, however, Picasso included painted words on the canvas. The words, “ma jolie” on the surface not only flatten the space further, but they also liken the painting to a poster because they are painted in a font reminiscent of one used in advertising. This is the first time that an artist so blatantly uses elements of popular culture in a work of high art. Further linking the work to pop culture and to the everyday, “Ma Jolie” was also the name of a popular tune at the time as well as Picasso’s nickname for his girlfriend.
Using square cut outs
collage is helpful for REPRESENTING REPRESENTATION (KRAUSS) — why is there this emphasis? dependent always on absence (what you represent cannot be fully there)
Artwork description & Analysis: Still Life with Chair Caning is celebrated for being modern art’s first collage. Picasso had affixed preexisting objects to his canvases before, but this picture marks the first time he did so with such playful and emphatic intent. The chair caning in the picture in fact comes from a piece of printed oilcloth – and not, as the title suggests, an actual piece of chair caning. But the rope around the canvas is very real, and serves to evoke the carved border of a cafe table. Furthermore, the viewer can imagine that the canvas is a glass table, and the chair caning is the actual seat of the chair that can be seen through the table. Hence the picture not only dramatically contrasts visual space as is typical of Picasso’s experiments, it also confuses our sense of what it is that we are looking at.
Picasso’s Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle is typical of his Synthetic Cubism, in which he uses various means – painted dots, silhouettes, grains of sand – to allude to the depicted objects. This combination of painting and mixed media is an example of the way Picasso “synthesized” color and texture – synthesizing new wholes after mentally dissecting the objects at hand. During his Analytic Cubist phase Picasso had suppressed color, so as to concentrate more on the forms and volumes of the objects, and this rationale also no doubt guided his preference for still life throughout this phase. The life of the cafe certainly summed up modern Parisian life for the artists – it was where he spent a good deal of time talking with other artists – but the simple array of objects also ensured that questions of symbolism and allusion might be kept under control.
The polemical book contains seven essays, all but one of which were published in the magazine L’Esprit Nouveau beginning in 1921. Each essay dismisses the contemporary trends of eclecticism and art deco, replacing them with architecture that was meant to be more than a stylistic experiment; rather, an architecture that would fundamentally change how humans interacted with buildings. This new mode of living derived from a new spirit defining the industrial age, demanding a rebirth of architecture based on function and a new aesthetic based on pure form.
For the feminist movement, the reductive invasion of face and body underlines Picasso’s continual subjugation of the female image, particularly here, with the displaced vagina as mouth, complete with vicious teeth. The use of colour and patterning also mocks the work of Henri Matisse with its imitation of wallpaper design. The red and green polarisation, when juxtaposed with the calm sea outside, heightens the frenzied tension within the room.
Artwork description & Analysis: When Picasso’s work came under the influence of the Surrealists in the late 1920s, his forms often took on melting, organic contours. This work was completed in May 1929, around the same time the Surrealists were preoccupied with the way in which ugly and disgusting imagery might provide a route into the unconscious. It was clearly intended to shock, and it may have been influenced by Salvador Dali – and Joan Miro. It is thought that the picture represents the former dancer Olga Koklova, whose relationship with Picasso was failing around this time.
Collective Suicide is an apocalyptic vision of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when many
of the indigenous inhabitants killed themselves rather than submit to slavery. Siqueiros shows armored Spanish troops advancing on horseback, a bowed captive staggering before them in chains. The broken statue of a god demonstrates the ruin of the indigenous culture. Chichimec Indians, separated from their tormentors by a churning pit, slaughter their own children, hang themselves, stab themselves with spears, or hurl themselves from cliffs. Mountainous forms create a backdrop crowned with swirling peaks, like fire or blood.
Siqueiros, one of the Mexican mural painters of the 1920s and 1930s, advocated what he called “a monumental, heroic, and public art.” An activist and propagandist for social re- form, he was politically minded even in his choices of materials and formats: rejecting what he called “bourgeois easel art,” he used commercial and industrial paints and methods. Col- lective Suicide is one of his relatively few easel paintings, but here, too, he used spray guns and stencils for the figures, and strategically let the paints—commercial enamels—flow together on the canvas. Collective Suicide is both a memorial to the doomed pre-Hispanic cultures of the Americas and a rallying cry against contemporary totalitarian regimes.
This painting itself is a shorthand, very meta
Connection between this and Automatic Drawing
Much of Pollock’s early work is characterized by a somber palette and congested pictorial space, but Stenographic Figure is bright and airy. Reflecting, perhaps, his new relationship with painter Lee Krasner, it is often read as a reclining female whose head in profile is at the upper left, whose arms and hands are opened wide over a torso that stretches across the middle of the canvas, and whose legs and paw-like feet are spread across the right edge. Another possible interpretation is that there is an upright figure near the right edge of the canvas and another just left of center. To finish the painting, Pollock covered the surface with a layer of scratchy, calligraphic lines.
When Stenographic Figure was first shown in 1943, at the Spring Salon for Young Artists held by Peggy Guggenheim at her gallery Art of This Century, it garnered praise from, among others, Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, who described it as “the most interesting work I’ve seen so far in America.”
Galaxy , 1947
oil and aluminum paint on canvas, 43½ x 34, 110.49 x 86.36 cm
Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, 1949.164
After an itinerant childhood spent in southern California and Arizona, Pollock moved to New York to study art. Enrolling at the Art Students League, he became a student and friend of Thomas Hart Benton, whose romantic and rhythmic sensibilities remained influential long after Pollock dismissed his mentor’s Regionalist subject matter as narrow and parochial. By the early 1940s, Pollock, along with such other New York artists as Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb, pioneered a semi-abstract style based on primitive and classical myths and symbols. Unified by the psychoanalytical theories of Carl Jung, they believed their art could communicate an understanding shared by all peoples throughout time — a universal, “collective unconscious.” Later, Pollock referred to mythology more generally. Like the Surrealists, he tried to draw “automatically” — spontaneously from internal impulses.
Pollock made his first revolutionary, Abstract Expressionist “drip” paintings in 1947. Rare evidence of an artist’s decisive moment, Galaxy was one of the first canvases that Pollock took off the easel and laid on the floor and, with deliberate, intuitive gestures, veiled an existing image with colorful skeins of poured paint. His energetic new compositions were completely abstract and “all-over” — that is, painted without reference to perspective depth or spatial orientation. In addition to introducing the artist’s innovative dripping and spattering techniques, Galaxy reveals Pollock’s use of such unorthodox materials as sand and industrial aluminum paint, a kind of experimentation earlier encouraged by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros.
In the following years, Pollock’s works became larger, the canvas clearly an arena in which the spontaneous act of creation was recorded. As his ruggedly individual Abstract Expressionism was recognized as an important American contribution to the international avant-garde, Pollock’s notoriety as art’s “wild one” grew. A fitful genius given to bouts of depression and alcoholism, Pollock was America’s best-known contemporary artist at the time of his fatal automobile crash in 1956.
However, at some point in the process of painting, Pollock laid down his brush and began instead to drip and spatter his pigment, not quite completely covering the underlayer, into which he also embedded small pieces of gravel to increase the texture.
Size is significant: Autumn Rhythm is 207 inches wide. It assumes the scale of an environment, enveloping both for the artist as he created it and for viewers who confront it. The work is a record of its process of coming-into-being. Its dynamic visual rhythms and sensations-buoyant, heavy, graceful, arcing, swirling, pooling lines of color-are direct evidence of the very physical choreography of applying the paint with the artist’s new methods. Spontaneity was a critical element. But lack of premeditation should not be confused with ceding control; as Pollock stated, “I can control the flow of paint: there is no accident.”
For Pollock, as for the Abstract Expressionists in general, art had to convey significant or revelatory content. He had arrived at abstraction having studied with Thomas Hart Benton, worked briefly with the Mexican muralists, confronted the methods and philosophy of the Surrealists, and immersed himself in a study of myth, archetype, and ancient and “primitive” art. And the divide between abstraction and figuration was more nuanced-there was a back-and-forth at various moments in his career. Toward the end of his life (he died in a car accident in 1956), he said, “I’m very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you’re working out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge. … Painting is a state of being. … Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.”
To many, the large eloquent canvases of 1950 are Pollock’s greatest achievements. Autumn Rhythm, painted in October of that year, exemplifies the extraordinary balance between accident and control that Pollock maintained over his technique. The words “poured” and “dripped,” commonly used to describe his unorthodox creative process, which involved painting on unstretched canvas laid flat on the floor, hardly suggest the diversity of the artist’s movements (flicking, splattering, and dribbling) or the lyrical, often spritual, compositions they produced.
In Autumn Rhythm, as in many of his paintings, Pollock first created a complex linear skeleton using black paint. For this initial layer the paint was diluted, so that it soaked into the length of unprimed canvas, thereby inextricably joining image and support. Over this black framework Pollock wove an intricate web of white, brown, and turquoise lines, which produce the contrary visual rhythms and sensations: light and dark, thick and thin, heavy and buoyant, straight and curved, horizontal and vertical. Textural passages that contribute to the painting’s complexity — such as the pooled swirls where two colors meet and the wrinkled skins formed by the build-up of paint — are barely visible in the initial confusion of overlapping lines. Although Pollock’s imagery is nonrepresentational, Autumn Rhythm is evocative of nature, not only in its title but also in its coloring, horizontal orientation, and sense of ground and space.
Pollock’s method was based on his earlier experiments with dripping and splattering paint on ceramic, glass, and canvas on an easel. Now, he laid a large canvas on the floor of his studio barn, nearly covering the space. Using house paint, he dripped, poured, and flung pigment from loaded brushes and sticks while walking around it. He said that this was his way of being “in” his work, acting as a medium in the creative process. For Pollock, who admired the sand painting of the American Indians, summoning webs of color to his canvases and making them balanced, complete, and lyrical, was almost an act of ritual. Like an ancient cave painter, he “signed” Lavender Mist in the upper left corner and at the top of the canvas with his handprints.
Though the work contains no lavender, the webs of black, white, russet, orange, silver, and stone blue industrial paints in Lavender Mist radiate a mauve glow that inspired Greenberg, Pollock’s stalwart champion, to suggest the descriptive title, which Pollock accepted. Pollock’s canvases from this decisive phase of his career are considered to have transformed the experience of looking “at” a work of art into one of being immersed, upright, in its fullness. His mastery of chance, intuition, and control brought abstract expressionism to a new level.
Ladybug abuts pure colors with colors that mix on the canvas, dense paint with liquid drips, flatness with relief. Empty areas at the work’s edges suggest a basic ground, which seems to continue under the tracery of color; but the white patches here are actually more pigment, and shift in intensity and texture. Struggling out between short, firm, jaggedly arranged strokes of blue, mauve, green, brown, and red, the whites aerate this energized structure, appearing ambiguously both under and over it. No landscape is evident; Mitchell set out not to describe nature but “to paint what it leaves me with.”
On a warm summer evening in August 1952 pianist David Tudor approached a piano on stage at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York. Stopwatch in hand, Tudor sat before the piano and, without striking a note, premiered John Cage’s composition 4’33”. Commonly known as Cage’s “silent” piece, 4’33” comprises three movements during which a performer—or performers—are instructed to produce no intentional sounds for four minutes and 33 seconds. This radical gesture upended the conventional structure of music, shifting attention from the performer to the audience, and allowing for endless possibilities of ambient sounds to fill the space. Today, 4’33” is recognized as a groundbreaking work that synthesizes Cage’s interests in chance operations, experimental music, and visual arts. When discussing the work over his lifetime, Cage emphasized that, rather than intending to simply shock his audience, he hoped to attune listeners to silence as a structure within musical notation. In the visual arts, Cage’s contemporaries were similarly using chance, “negative space,” and physically dematerialized works that encourage open presentations or interpretations of scripted experiences.
Big difference between the hand of the artist and the drip technique and this
quasi-mechanical, removing hand of the artist al together
His identity as an artist is something that he had very much developed — a homosexual man
He raised, in unprecedently acute form, questions of how reality may be represented in art which have been of central concern to modern artists from Courbet on, and which were central to Pop Art. His extreme position on such issues is one important element in his art, but there is more, since Warhol was possessed of an acute vision of the major themes of human life – food, sex, death, money, power, success and failure – as these were manifest in the surface appearances of his own times. Above all perhaps, he was unerring in his choice of images which encapsulated these themes. His choice of Marilyn Monroe and of a particular photograph of her, is a case in point. Campbell’s Soup, as exemplary of convenience food, is another [see Tate Gallery P07242]. As in other Pop Art, but again to a much more intense degree, these images are presented in Warhol’s paintings in a detached and dispassionate manner, as a series of silent questions for the spectator to make of as much or as little as they will. Warhol’s painting took on its mature edge when, following the logic of his printed source material, he began to adapt the silkscreen printing process to painting. Silkscreen is a form of stencil, much used by artists for print-making, and normally prepared and printed by hand. However, the image can be put on the screen photographically, which is what Warhol did, thus mechanically reproducing his source. In ‘Marilyn Diptych’ this was a still photograph of Monroe in the 1953 film Niagara. Marilyn Monroe died, from an overdose of sleeping pills, on 5 August 1962. Between then and the end of that year Warhol made at least twenty-three silkscreen paintings of her. In them he retained the handprinting of the silkscreen onto the canvas and, as can be seen, constantly varied the image by changes in the registration of the different colours or the amount of paint put through the screen. In the right panel of ‘Marilyn Diptych’ he has produced effects of blurring and fading strongly suggestive of the star’s demise. The contrast of this panel, printed in black, with the brilliant colours of the other, also implies a contrast between life and death. The repetition of the image has the effect both of reinforcing its impact and of negating it, creating the effect of an all-over abstract pattern.
With its intense color and shocking imagery, Five Deaths on Orange becomes an authoritative essay on the power of the image in modern society. The image Warhol used pulls no punches in its gruesome depiction of the scene of an accident. The upturned vehicle, flipped over on a country road, entombs three of its victims inside its metal structure. In the center of the picture a female passenger lies in a pool of blood, her vacant gaze staring out at the viewer as if in a cry for help. Behind her, the twisted body of her male companion lies motionless, and to the left the anonymous hand of another victim hangs from the car’s dark interior. Out of this mangle of metal and bodies however, two other figures emerge, bloodied and in obvious shock as they crawl away from their lifeless companions. Adding to the evocative nature of Five Deaths on Orange is the clarity of this particular canvas, which lays out the details of the scene in exacting detail from the expressions on the victim’s faces to the pattern on the man’s plaid shirt and even the individual leaves on the tree that blocks the car’s path. This, together with the unscreened passages of vibrant color that run across the upper and lower edges of the painting, heightens the tension contained within the picture, almost forcing the viewer to lean in for a closer, more considered, examination of the gruesome scene that Warhol lays out before us.
The source image for Five Deaths on Orange was a news photograph of an automobile accident in Los Angeles and issued by the UPI wire service. A few brief lines of news copy that accompanied the photograph described the accident as having been caused when a truck hit the car carrying a group of youngsters out for the evening. Two of the survivors can be seen crawling from the wreckage, their bloodstained faces caught in the glare of the photographer’s flashbulb, whilst a third survivor remains trapped inside the vehicle. The other victims of the crash, two sailors (according to the news copy) stationed aboard the USS Maddox in San Diego, lie dead within the wreckage—their anonymous bodies slumped in the back of the car with an outstretched arm being checked for a pulse by a first responder whose feet can be seen behind the trunk of the car.
The image itself was initially discovered by Warhol’s assistant, Gerald Malanga who would spend hours going through old photographs looking for photographs that Warhol could work with. “I would do photo research, in a lot of instances” he claimed, “There was this old bookstore on 7th Avenue and 23rd Street where I would go and rummage through piles of old news agency photos, mostly car crashes, one kind of disaster or another. The one with the “5 Deaths” for instance, Andy and I would just play around with juxtapositions and how the images would fit on a piece of canvas that we’d already cut” He added, “We would return to this silkscreen again and again for several months; in effect, the first painting repeated many times over, this initiating Andy’s serial imagery on separate identically shaped canvases and anticipating the Flower paintings to come” (G. Malanga, ‘Photograph of a Painted Photograh: 5 Deaths,’ Andy Warhol 5 Deaths, exh. Cat, Stellan Holm Gallery, New York, 2002, pp. 23 & 12).
Warhol often used pictures taken from newspapers and popular magazines as his source image, but in the case of Five Deaths on Orange, as Gerald Malanga recalls, the graphic nature of the image meant that Warhol had to search in a new area for inspiration”…images like this were never really used in newspapers like the Daily News or the New York Times. They were usually relegated to newspapers like the National Enquirer or scandal tabloid sheets. So in a sense these were really images censored out by the mainstream press, and so they ended up in these unmistakable scandal sheets” (Ibid., p. 25) .
The prurient detail which is displayed in this 1963 painting demonstrates Warhol’s increasing interest during this period with mortality. Indeed, although his earlier paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were both trigged by the tragic experiences which happened to the actresses (Monroe’s suicide in 1962 and Taylor’s near fatal illness in 1961), it is only with these early Disaster paintings that his increasing interest in death becomes blatantly apparent. His curiosity had been sparked in 1962 when the curator Henry Galdzahler had suggested that Warhol paint the darker side of American life. His first foray into the subject was a work titled 129 Die in which he painted the front page of the New Mirror newspaper with the splash headline ‘129 DIE IN JET!.’ The following year, around the time Five Deaths on Orange was painted, Warhol explained the origins of his fascination with death to Gene Swenson, “It was Labor Day,” Warhol said, “and every time you turned on the radio, some said something like ‘Four Million people are going to die.’ That started it. But when you see an image over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect. The death series I did was divided into two parts: the first on famous deaths and the second on people who nobody had ever heard of and I thought that people should think about some time….It’s not that I feel sorry for them and it doesn’t really matter to them that someone unknown was killed, so I thought it would be nice for these unknown people to be remembered. (A. Warhol, interviewed by G. Swenson, “What is Pop Art?,” Art News 62, November 1963, pp. 60-61).
In the post-war economic boom that swept much of the United States after World War Two, the automobile was celebrated as a thing of beauty—a symbol of the prosperity and social mobility that the American Dream promised. In cities like Los Angeles, the automobile had become the dominant cultural phenomenon around which much of the newly classified concept of leisure time was played out. By depicting the results of a momentary lapse in concentration when lives can be changed forever, Warhol also showed that the American dream can become a nightmare in the blink of an eye, a drama that was being played out with alarming monotony across the country. By choosing these unknown victims, Warhol brought home the fragility of life to a wider audience. That a few moments earlier all five occupants of the car were enjoying a night out is what makes this image all the more shocking, a tangible example of the fragility of life and how it can all turn on a dime. This sense of propinquity struck Warhol right from the very beginning, as Gerald Malanga remembers. “When we were making the 5 Deaths with the car upside down and the people underneath, Andy asked, ‘Are they still alive?’ as if the accident had actually occurred in front of us” (G. Malanga, Andy Warhol 5 Deaths, exh. cat., Stellan Holm Gallery, New York, 2002, p. 29). Although it is the physicality of the images that is immediately shocking, it is this sense of fragility that has the most poignant effect, as Malanga noted, “The faces now nameless. The situation of the death and disaster receding in time and memory. Mangled and wreckage. A midsummer night on a lonely road to nowhere. The characteristics traits of what we have called modernity” (G. Malanga, ‘Photograph of a Painted Photograh: 5 Deaths,’ Andy Warhol 5 Deaths, exh. Cat, Stellan Holm Gallery, New York, 2002, p. 12).
Five Deaths on Orange was acquired directly from the Stable Gallery by the renowned gallerist Ileana Sonnabend and has been on extended loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art since 1985. Sonnabend met Warhol as early as 1962 and became an early champion of his work, curating some of Warhol’s most important early shows at her Paris gallery including Death and Disasters (1964), Flowers (1965), and Thirteen Most Wanted Men (1967). The pair became two of the central figures of the art world in the 1960s—each knew their strengths and played to them. Between them, they formed a powerful partnership; Sonnabend knew that knowledge was power and used her awareness of the art market to great effect, while Warhol—ever the gossip—loved knowing everything about everybody. “These two, Ileana and Andy, were consummate role players, and over time the roles they played became who they were. Shrewd and intellectually nimble, both exploited their pronounced stylistic eccentricities to constant advantage” (B. Richardson, ‘Ileana & Andy: A Story in Counterpoint,’ Warhol from the Sonnabend Collection, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2009, p. 11).
The car crash became one of Warhol’s central motifs, including his monumental masterpiece Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) also painted in 1963, and together they form the most varied and extensive group of pictures in his seminal series of Death and Disaster paintings. They encompass many of the themes that Warhol had become progressively fascinated with including mortality, voyeurism and the increasing consumption of mass-media. These horrific images might seem an unlikely subject matter for art, but with through Warhol’s perceptive eye, Five Deaths on Orange remains amongst one of the most powerful, challenging and provocative paintings made by any artist in the post-war era.
PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Warhol began his “Jackie” series shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas. As the basis for his paintings, he selected eight photographs from the mass-media coverage of the assassination and cropped the pictures to focus on the president’s widow. The high contrast of magazine and newspaper photographs served the artist well in his process of enlarging the images and transferring them to canvas via silk screen. During 1964 Warhol produced an undocumented number of individual paintings of Jackie on canvases 20 by 16 inches, which were sold as single units and in multiple configurations. In this particular group, she is seen in four different “poses” that present a range of expressions and costumes provided by journalists images. The view of Jackie standing with a uniformed soldier by her side, for example, crops and reverses the cover photograph from Life magazine on December 6, 1963.
Warhol’s disavowals of artistic ingenuity have obscured the extent to which sophisticated formal choices underlay his work. A genuine media addict, he kept vast files of photojournalists’ images. But he chose only an infinitesimal fraction of these to make into paintings. His selection of a photo was followed by a calculated decision on cropping; in this painting, the image that includes the half-face of a man behind Jackie reminds us that we are looking at a fragment. The color of the acrylic paint, such as the turquoise of many Jackie panels, also becomes a strongly expressive component of the final composition. Warhol’s use of simple repetition is perhaps the most dramatic of all his artistic devices, as it compresses and intensifies the numbing drone of images with which we are confronted over weeks and months of newspaper, magazine, and television coverage. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 110.