Andy Warhol’s silkscreen images of Campbell Soup, Marilyn Monroe and dollar signs are instantly recognisable and also fetch for millions of pounds in international art auctions, making him one of the most commercially successful artists ever to have lived.
Starting his career off as a fashion illustrator using hand-painted drawings, Warhol later began to silkscreen his work via mainstream techniques. This in effect blurred the boundaries between art and commodity, with his dollar sign silkscreens epitomising the notion of art as capital exchange.
The digitally reproduced image above has only recently been rediscovered, having been salvaged from old Amiga floppy disks stored at the Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol was involved in the 1985 launch of the Commodore Amiga and was commissioned to produce digital images by the computer and electronics manufacturer as part of the launch. A documentary about this recent discovery can be viewed online at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Warhol’s original image Details of Renaissance Paintings (Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482) was produced in 1984 with acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen after he significantly cropped a reproduction of Botticelli’s famous Birth of Venus painting. The silkscreen formed part of Warhol’s wider 1984 print collection entitled Details of Renaissance Paintings, which also featured appropriated images from paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Ucello.
Reproducing iconic, classical paintings was a way for Warhol to critique the traditional art market and highlight its commercial value. Classical paintings had already become part of mass consumption, appearing on souvenirs, biscuit boxes, postcards, etc, but what Warhol did was to re-interpret them in Pop Art form and emphasise their commercialism.
“I think it would be great if more people took up silkscreens so that no one would know whether my picture was mine or somebody else’s.” – Andy Warhol
Image via warhol.org