Accession Number


Andy Warhol

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
screenprint on paper

36 in. x 36 in. ( 91.5 cm x 91.5 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Frances and Sydney Lewis

Label copy
Disaster and glamour are twin themes in Andy Warhol's work of the 1960s. Fascinated by movie stars such as Warren Beatty, Troy Donahue, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor, Warhol was also drawn to subjects involving death and disaster, such as air and automobile crashes, the electric chair, and suicides. Like Jacqueline Kennedy, another of Warhol's subjects of the 1960s, Marilyn Monroe combined beauty, fame, and tragedy in equal measure.
This print follows Warhol's first paintings depicting Marilyn Monroe, exhibited in November 1962. This image was created by the use of the silkscreen, a favorite technique of Warhol's, whose process eliminated brushwork found in painting and precludes any sense of the artist's touch. On the other hand, the off-register printing, a characteristic of both the paintings and the prints, reintroduces the sense of individual production rather than mass manufacture. The brash color combinations help to underscore the vitality of the image, suggesting the flickering of some old movie. The glamour of the silver screen is an appropriate setting for this representation of a sex symbol of the movie industry.
For Warhol, however, Marilyn Monroe was more than a product of the motion picture industry. She was also the product of urban mass culture, which in turn is influenced by symbols and images communicated by the mass media. Warhol's use of these popular icons of the day helped coin the term for the movement he is credited with founding: Pop Art.
Sean M. Ulmer, University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for "A Matter of Degree: Abstraction in Twentieth-Century Art," November 10, 2001 - January 27, 2002
Andy Warhol (United States, 1928–1987)
Screenprint on paper
Gift of Frances and Sydney Lewis
By the time of her suicide in 1962, few figures played as visible a role in the public imagination as Marilyn Monroe. Like Jacqueline Kennedy, another of Warhol's subjects of the 1960s, Marilyn Monroe combined beauty, fame, and tragedy in equal measure.
Shortly after her death, Warhol began an extensive series of works based on a publicity still for the 1953 film Niagara. In 1967, he produced a portfolio of ten portraits, three of which are displayed here. The commercial technique of screenprinting simultaneously provides the image with a clean, hard-edged legibility and allows for endless variation in color and registration. In these works, Marilyn is both canonized as a martyr and exposed as a highly structured image. By celebrating the veneer of glamour and fame while at the same time acknowledging its complexity (and morbidity), these prints reveal Warhol's subtle grasp of American celebrity culture.

Subject matter
From a portfolio of ten screenprints based on a publicity still of Marilyn Monroe from the 1953 film "Niagara".

Physical Description
Portrait of Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
planographic print

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Pop (fine arts styles)
actors (performing artists)
heads (animal components)
historical regions
modern and contemporary art
screen prints

5 Related Resources

Space Face Wall Warhol
(Part of: Screen Arts and Cultures, Fall 2009 Project)
(Part of 9 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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