Andy Warhol didn't invent pop culture, but he used his camera, paintbrush, and imagination to herald it an essential and prominent part of the American fine art landscape and mindset.
Chalk & Vermilion Fine Art celebrates Warhol’s majesty, vision and continuing impact on Americana by offering a showcase of originals and uniqueness of our most beloved and iconic Hollywood legends.
Andy Warhol’s 1985 Ads Portfolio
The series features ten screen-prints, a selection of which are on view in our gallery. The series is based on enormously successful commercial advertisements. Warhol's touch blurs the lines between art and advertising, combining elements from his many artistic and business endeavors. Included in the series are the following:
Blackglama (featuring Judy Garland): Judy Garland was featured in a famous ad campaign selling Blackglama minks. The campaign was created by Jane Trahey (one of the first women to open her advertising firm in 1960) in which prominent leading ladies were used as the gimmick to sell Blackglama’s elegant products. The women were to symbolize everything that the photo of the product (mink coat, etc.) could not convey on its own; their fame and beauty gave the furs a real sense of luxury and desirability. Notably, Richard Avedon captured powerful images. The great tagline, "What Becomes a Legend most?" was credited with making Blackglama the most powerful name in mink coats within just two years.
Van Heusen (featuring Ronald Reagan): Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan was featured in a series of advertisements for Van Heusen dress shirts during his time as an actor in the 1950s and 1960s. Andy Warhol’s ironic and amusing imagination was continually inspired by the seriality and impersonality of advertisements and the juxtaposition of celebrity, using this particular ad for Van Heusen as a model for this piece. According to Whitney Curator, Donna De Salvo (2003), this series of screenprints from the Ads Portfolio is heavy with “slick and perfect surfaces” and “candy-coated renderings” that are iconic to his pop art creations.
Van Heusen highlights the 1950s Golden Age of Advertising with Ronald Reagan touting Vane Heusen’s revolutionary “soft-folding” collar and their claim that the shirts “won’t wrinkle ever!” Celebrities and sports figures became ideal spokespeople for advertisements in the 1950s as television colonized every living room in America and shows like Reagan’s Law and Order made their actors and actresses household names. Warhol cleverly plays with the original ad image, removing words and using color effects to represent the picture to us more than thirty years after its initial creation, at a time when its celebrity subject was now an aging president of the United States. Though Van Heusen’s shirts and collars may have had a notable resistance to wrinkling, Mr. Reagan was naturally another story.
Rebel Without a Cause (featuring James Dean): This screenprint is dominated by the iconic figure of actor James Dean and copied directly from the poster for the classic movie Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Tragically killed in a car accident less than a month before the film’s release, Dean is forever memorialized as a young, rebellious heartthrob. Warhol explores his interest in multiples through the layering and interpretation of Dean’s image, in one sense glorifying his celebrity while also, more darkly, hinting at his tragic end.
Andy Warhol Liz: Andy Warhol began creating images of Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s at the height of the actress's career. Taylor's life was the favorite subject for Warhol; she possessed a combination of success, beauty, and tragedy. Liz, (1964) is based on a closely-cropped promotional photograph for the movie Butterfield 8.
About Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol is seen as one of the most prolific American artists of all time, whose undeniable influence proved him to be a leading figure within the Pop Art Movement. Warhol was a multitalented individual; he was an artist, filmmaker, producer, designer, and photographer.
Warhol was born on August 6th, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From an early age, Warhol was interested in the arts as he was more often sick at home than at school. Somewhat isolated due to childhood illnesses, a young Warhol entertained himself by drawing and grappling with other artistic hobbies. Eventually, Warhol graduated high school with aspirations of becoming an illustrator in the world of advertising. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the Carnegie Mellon University of Technology and moved to New York to pursue his creative dreams.
From the beginning of his career, Warhol received growing attention from large corporations, including Harper’ Bazaar and Vogue magazines. The rapid success of Warhol’s contracts quickly spread throughout the art world and brought him the notable status of an art icon. Utilizing various screen printing techniques, Warhol loved to paint portraits of the rich and famous and created universally recognizable portraits of well-known pop culture figures such as Judy Garland, James Dean, Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, and more.
In June of 1968, there was an attempt made on Warhol’s life. He was shot three times in the stomach but managed to survive the vicious attack. Despite the long-lasting health complications resulting from this event, he continued, and thrived, in his creative career. In 1983, he produced the Endangered Species silk-screen prints, which included animals like the Pine Barrens Tree Frog and Bald Eagle. After months of continuous illness, on February 20th, 1987, Warhol was taken to a New York hospital to have his gallbladder removed. He died suddenly, two days later, of postoperative cardiac arrest.
Warhol’s legacy continues to inspire today, and he has become an integral and permanent figure within the art world and its culture. His work is still among some of the most distinguished and highest grossing in history. In 1994, The Andy Warhol Museum opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to honor his legacy. Warhol’s art is also frequently exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Chalk & Vermilion is proud to have a wide assortment of Warhol artworks in our South Coast Plaza Gallery.