Within the year of her controversial death, Warhol created this painting of Monroe based on a 1953 publicity still for the film, Niagara. Warhol famously combined the media of photography with painting using silk screen printing on his canvases. Unlike Shepard Fairey’s secrecy about using the AP photograph, here Warhol blatantly chose to use a photograph known to millions, undermining the uniqueness and authenticity characteristic of traditional portraiture. He intentionally presented Monroe as an infinitely reproducible image.
The source for this work is “Run for Love!,” the melodramatic lead story in DC Comics’ Secret Love #83, from 1962. Lichtenstein shortened the caption from “I don’t care if I have a cramp!” to the ambiguous “I don’t care!” and changed the boyfriend’s name from Mal to Brad. Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl,” another abstraction from comic artist, Tony Abruzzo, sold last year for $44.9 million. Predating Photoshop, the artist traced the original image from a projection. Even if Abruzzo or DC Comic ever went after Lichtenstein for this, he wouldn’t have any evidence to erase from his laptop.
Immediately after finishing “Gold Marilyn Monroe,” Warhol created the Campbell’s Soup Cans, one painting to represent each of the 32 varieties of Campbell’s Soup. While Warhol’s cans were on exhibit in L.A. a nearby gallery stacked some real soup cans, advertising, “Get the real thing for only 29 cents a can.” Warhol’s cans flopped. At first, dealer, Irving Blum, sold five of the paintings separately at $100 each, but later bought them back in order to sell the entire series for $3,000. After acquiring them for a third time, in 1996, Blum sold the series to the Museum of Modern Art for $15 million.
Why Campbell’s soup? Warhol explained, “I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years.” I wonder what he would have eaten for lunch if he’d lived to see any of the $15 million. Because his financial success was delayed, Andy Warhol would have never been able to afford the $250,000 in fines accrued by Shepard Fairey. Perhaps this is why charges were never made or perhaps it was the liberal attitude of the sixties and, of course, the free advertising. (via polymic.com)
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