The Shadow, from Myths (FS II.267)
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
38 x 38 in.
Edition of 200
Pencil signed and numbered
About the work:
As a keen observer of the emergence of America as the global superpower it is today, Andy Warhol captured deep American truths and fantasies. “Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see,” he once observed. Nowhere is this national fantasy clearer than in Warhol’s Myths Series of 1981.
The suite, composed of 10 iconic representations of recognizable figures of American film, history and culture encompass Warhol’s own life and the magic of 20th century American Pop Culture, or American Mythology. The term ‘Mythology’ (or ‘Myth’) often-times evokes the collected stories of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, however, Mythology is a feature of every culture. The collection of myths of any society defines its spirit and soul.
In the Myths Series, Warhol selected a range of 10 uniquely American personas, from Santa Claus to Uncle Sam, each artwork revealing facets of Warhol’s personality and desires. As a sick child, he was inspired by the duality of Clark Kent/Superman and famously wanted to be regarded as strong an american symbol as Mickey Mouse. Warhol so ardently wanted to be a part of American Mythology that he used his own self-portrait to take on the role of one of the characters in the Myths suite. Overtly self-referential, the artist placed himself among his idols.
This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is The Shadow, from Myths, in which Andy Warhol used his own face to personify a fictional American icon.
While many of the referenced characters of the suite require no introduction, today ‘The Shadow’ is a more niche symbol of American Pop Culture. ‘The Shadow’ was a fictional pulp-novel character of the 1930’s, a crime-fighting hero of Warhol’s childhood. He wore a wide-brimmed black hat and a black, crimson-lined cloak with an upturned collar over a standard black business suit.
The popular series was also adapted into a Radio Show and a comic strip during Warhol’s lifetime.
The portrait is based on a photograph of Warhol as the fictional character and although he doesn’t wear The Shadow’s black cloak or broad-rimmed hat, the crimson lighting illuminating Warhol’s face, which references the red lining of The Shadow’s cloak, causes a strong shadow to be cast of his profile in the background. While peering at the viewer, Andy Warhol crafts a personification of himself masquerading as a hero.
Andy Warhol exhibited an unerring sense for the powerful motifs of his time – contemporary images that capture the modern imagination as completely as the gods and goddesses of ancient mythology once did. The images presented in Myths are nostalgic representations of America, each theatrically reflecting American fantasies, hopes, fears and dreams. Warhol gives these already established icons his signature pop-style treatment, inserting his own image into the narrative of pop culture.
The Shadow from Myths is a screenprint on Lenox Museum board with Diamond Dust covering the full sheet. The Diamond Dust, heavily applied, adds a luster to the work, but also lends to its mysteriousness, thus accentuating The Shadow. It its a very impressive work.
About the work:
One of the last portfolios Andy Warhol would produce before his untimely death in 1987 was his renowned Ads series. The 10 prints that make up the series are based on some of the most popular and successful ad campaigns and logos from Andy Warhol’s lifetime. They are considered to be particularly important because of Warhol’s fascination with advertising, consumerism and commercialism, which were three major facets of his entire body of work. Having begun his artistic career in advertising, Andy Warhol, more than any other artist of his generation, understood how the reproduced image had come to reflect and shape contemporary life in America.
This week’s Work Of the Week! WOW! is Paramount. In this work, Andy Warhol masterfully depicts the snow-capped mountain in white, making the image pop out to the viewer. He also skillfully plays with the yellow, red and green coloring causing the word “Paramount” and the halo of stars to seem three-dimensional or animated. That Warhol chose Paramount over any other film studio is fitting in many ways.
It is well-known that Warhol was fascinated with stardom and fame. He loved being surrounded by the Hollywood elites. One of his most famed images is that of Marilyn Monroe, he was smitten with Liz Taylor, and even promoted his own “Warhol Superstars” such as Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedwick and Candy Darling, to name a few. Founded in 1912, Paramont Pictures, is the second oldest film studio in the US. The story behind the Paramount logo is that each of the 22 original contracted actors and actresses of the studio was honored with one of the stars of the halo atop the mountain peak, which made them the original “movie stars.” There is no doubt that Andy Warhol, the man who coined the famous “15 minutes of fame” phrase, would have loved where the term “movie star” originated from.
The Paramount Logo as a portrait? : A Mysterious Connection
There is another, more personal and less well-known connection between Andy Warhol and the Paramount Pictures Company. In 1980, he met Jon Gould who was a 27 year old vice president of marketing at Paramount Pictures. Warhol was deeply infatuated with the film executive, and over the course of 5 years, the two shared a close bond that defied easy description. They lived together in Warhol’s townhouse until 1985. Jon Gould is the most photographed subject of Andy’s oeuvre, and while Andy created many portraits of him during their time together, those close to Warhol have insinuated that the inclusion of the Paramount logo in the Ads series, may be considered an abstract portrait of the young man Andy cared for.
Blackglama, from Ads
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
40 x 40 in.
Authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Foundation on verso
About the work:
WHAT BECOMES A LEGEND MOST?
One of the most famous advertising campaigns of the 20th century began in 1968: the series of full-page, black-and-white print ads for “Blackglama” furs. The campaign was an instant success thanks to the (at the time) new formula of combining a brilliant tag line, with a glamourous and famous icon to promote a luxury item.
“What becomes a Legend most?” is the memorable slogan for Blackglama furs.
Something that has always intrigued people about the brand name is: why the GLAMA in Blackglama, is not GLAMOUR? The whole campaign started when approximately 400 mink ranchers from the Great Lakes Mink Association (a.k.a. GLMA) were looking to revamp the image of their product. Ad executive, Jane Trahey of Jane Trahery Associates in NYC came up with the idea to incorporate the deep black color of the mink and the name of the association. Thus the name and the memorable slogan were born: “What becomes a Legend most?” (the “L” in legend was always capitalized).
Famed photographer Richard Avadon was brought on by the campaign to photograph the most important female celebrities of the time. In the first year alone, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and Judy Garland modeled for the brand. Every model was gifted an $8,000 Blackglama mink coat. Legend has it that Judy Garland left the studio without even bothering to have hers lined.
Here below we see Avadon’s contact sheet of Judy Garland posing in her Blackglama for the ad campaign
This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! is Blackglama, from Ads, featuring Judy Garland by Andy Warhol. Ever the observer of the times in which he lived, the artist, who began his career as a commercial illustrator in the 50’s was fascinated with the commercial world. Warhol glamorized and transformed celebrities and everyday objects like soup cans and Brillo Pads, into works of art. In the mid 1980’s he created one of his most sought after and iconic sets of screenprints: the Ads Series. Andy Warhol’s work explores the themes and the relationship between artistic expression, and the celebrity culture, advertisement, capitalism and consumerism that were prevalent at the time. The cultural force that was the Blackglama ad campaign fit perfectly into his philosophy and was a obvious choice to include into the Ads portfolio.
This particular version of Warhol’s Blackglama is a unique working proof, outside of the regular edition. It is much different from the one that we are most familiar with. In this work, the most notable difference is the background and the colors of Judy Garland herself. In the regular edition, the background is black and the color blue is the most prevalent for the mink, as well as her hair. In this working proof, there are more colors and the detail of Judy Garland’s face, hair and mink are more pronounced. The slogan at the top even has a slightly different hue.
Another noticeable difference is the size of this work. The regular edition Blackglama measures 38 x 38 in. This working proof measures 40 x 40 in. If you look closely at the bottom and left margins, you will see traces of regular edition coloring underneath this unique proof. Warhol did this quite often, working out different color arrangements and schemes until he got it just right.
These working proofs have become quite rare, hard to find and highly sought after. Each proof is different. Each proof is considered a unique work of art. This unique working proof of Blackglama is certified by the Andy Warhol foundation on the verso with its registration number. It is also accompanied with a letter of authenticity by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board.
John Wayne FS II.377, from Cowboys and Indians
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
36 x 36 in.
Edition of 250, each piece is unique
Pencil signed and numbered
About the work:
JOHN WAYNE. . . AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE
The saying “as American as apple pie” describes things that represent the best of American culture. People use this expression when talking about things like blue jeans, baseball, and rock-n-roll.
John Wayne is America! For many, John Wayne aka “The Duke”, symbolizes some one who is a tough, macho, rugged, strong, a fighter, an army man, and a cowboy.
At 6 foot ’4 inches, and an athlete (played football at USC), John Wayne not only had the stature of rough and tough guy, but had the attitude to go along with it.
In his movies, his straight forward, tell it like it is, take no crap attitude resonated with Americans leading up to and during WWII. He personified American toughness, and American values and ideals. He was proud of America, and American was proud of him.
There is no artist better to illustrate iconic symbols than Andy Warhol. Warhol had a knack for choosing figures and images that were uniquely iconic and symbolic to the world of the past, present, and future.
The genius of Warhol was that an iconic image, could say so much that nothing else but that image had to be on the canvas. Marilyn Monroe is still relevant today, because Warhol immortalized her. 55 years after her death Marilyn is still seen as one of the biggest, if not the biggest sex symbol in the world.
In this week’s Work of the Week (WOW), Warhol’s image of John Wayne staring at the viewer emotionless with an ever piercing gaze in a cowboy hat, and ‘kerchief around his neck, holding a gun, rugged and ready to shoot on a draw is is one we have seen time and time again in the movies. But Warhol knew The Duke, will remain a fixture of the popular imagination for as long as the world is watching movies, and for good reason: He wasn’t so much an actor as a symbol of national identity and a point of American pride.
Wether it is a smug portrait of Mao, a Dollar Sign, the Electric Chair, or a Campbell’s soup can, Warhol’s inconic imagery depicted the times, defined a nation, democratized art, made a statement, and sealed his place in art history for ever. The artist is as iconic as his art!
Birmingham Race Riot
20 x 24 in.
Edition of 500
About the work:
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS FOUL AND OFFENSIVE WORDS AND VIEWS THAT ARE USED TO PRESENT HISTORICALLY FACTUAL EVENTS ONLY!
THE WORDS AND VIEWS USED IN THIS ARTICLE DO NOT IN ANY WAY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF GREGG SHIENBAUM FINE ART INC. OR ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH GREGG SHIENBAUM FINE ART INC.
This week’s Work of the Week (WOW), Birmingham Race Riot is an example of Andy Warhol’s genius, that is often very subtle to the viewer.
Civil Rights photographer, Charles Moore published a photo-essay in Life Magazine covering the brutality black protesters were facing in Birmingham. One photo in particular of a young black protester being set upon by police dogs during the unrest, caught the attention of Andy Warhol, who at that moment was preparing for his first large-scale exhibit abroad, in Paris called “Death in America”
This exhibition consisted of paintings, of subjects such as car crashes, suicides, food poisoning, the electric chair, gangster funerals, and the Atom Bomb, later to become known as the Death and Disaster paintings.
Three of Moore’s photographs were of a dog attacking a black man and although the theme was not strictly “Death”, Warhol was sufficiently aware of their power to want to include them in his exhibition, consistent with his aim of showing the dark underside of the American Dream. The image is forceful and requires no commentary as the tension, violence and fear are palpable.
In all, Warhol made some ten silkscreen paintings on the theme. They became known as his Race Riot paintings (counterfactually, in reality the images were of a peaceful march disrupted by police), and they represent Warhol’s only overtly political statement, although he himself insisted that Moore’s photographs had merely “caught his eye”.
People who truly understand Andy Warhol, and his art, immediately see the genius of the man and his work. He never talked about about his artwork in a very serious manner. Mistakenly described as “aloof”, Warhol took pleasure at that description, and played it up to the critics, and media.
A perfect example of this, is the way he spoke about the Race Riot paintings. Not speaking about them as a historical, impactful, commentary on the events in American society of the time, but rather downplaying them as images that had merely “caught his eye”, is the exact genius of Andy Warhol.
Warhol did not have to describe his art, or lecture about his ideas, but rather, he preferred that his artwork did it for him. The idea of turning this photograph of a historically tragic dark time in America, into a work of art, presupposes the importance of the discussion or debate, of that image.
The very fact that he took this image and made it a work of art, elevated the importance of that image, and the importance of the discussion of this image, in social and political surroundings.
Done in a very quite manner, but heard loudly all over the world.
The Birmingham Riot of 1963
Birmingham, Alabama – May 10, 1963 . . .
Negotiators for the city, local businesses, and the civil rights campaign had completed and announced the “Birmingham Truce Agreement.”
This agreement included city and business commitments for:
- partial desegregation of fitting rooms, water fountains, and lunch counters in retail stores,
- promises of economic advancement for black workers,
- release of persons who had been arrested in demonstrations,
- the formation of a Committee on Racial Problems and Employment.
In an afternoon press conference held at the Gaston Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his team were staying, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth read a version of the agreement, after which King declared a “great victory” and prepared to leave town. However, some white leaders, including the city’s powerful Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor, who had used dogs and firehoses against demonstrators, denounced the agreement and suggested that they might not enforce its provisions.
May 11, 1963 . . .
State troopers were withdrawing from Birmingham under orders from Governor George Wallace. Investigator Ben Allen had been alerted about a potential bombing of the Gaston Motel by a source within the KKK and recommended that these troops stay for a few more days. Ben Allen’s warning was disregarded by state Public Safety Director Al Lingo, who said he could “take care of” the KKK threat. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., left Birmingham for Atlanta, Georgia
KKK leaders from across the South were assembling in nearby Bessemer, Alabama for a rally. KKK Imperial Wizard Robert Shelton addressed the white crowd, urging rejection of “any concessions or demands from any of the atheist so-called ministers of the nigger race or any other group here in Birmingham.“ He also said that “Klansmen would be willing to give their lives if necessary to protect segregation in Alabama.”
The rally ended at 10:15 pm.
At 8:08 pm that evening, the Gaston Motel received a death threat against Martin Luther King’s brother, A.D.King.
10:45 pm. A uniformed officer got out of his police car and placed a package near A. D. King’s front porch. The officer returned to the car. As the car drove away, someone threw a small object through the house’s window onto the sidewalk, where it exploded. The object created a small but loud explosion and knocked over bystander Roosevelt Tatum.
Tatum got up and moved toward the King house—only to face another, larger, blast from the package near the porch. This explosion destroyed the front of the house. Tatum survived and ran toward the back of the house, where he found A. D. King and his wife Naomi trying to escape with their five children.
Tatum told King that he had seen police deliver the bombs. King called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, demanding action against the local police department.
11:58 pm. A bomb thrown from a moving car detonated immediately beneath Room 30 at the Gaston Motel—the room where Dr. Martin Luther King had been staying. The Gaston Motel was owned by A. G. Gaston, a Black businessman who often provided resources to assist the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. The motel bomb could be heard all over town. Also heard was the sound of white men repeatedly singing “Dixie”.
Bryan McFall of the FBI was expecting his KKK informant Gary Rowe to report at 10:30 pm, immediately after the end of the KKK rally. McFall searched in vain for Rowe until finding him at 3:00 am in the VFW Hall near the Gaston Motel. Rowe told McFall, his FBI handler, that Black Muslims had perpetrated a false flag bombing in order to blame the Klan. McFall was unconvinced. However, in submitting his final report to J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, McFall did not identify the KKK as potentially responsible for the bombing, nor did he question the credibility of Rowe as an informant.
Contemporary historians widely believe that the bombing was carried out by four KKK members, including Gary Rowe and known bomber Bill Holt. Rowe was already suspected by the KKK to be a government informant, and other members may have compelled him to assist with the bombing in order to test his fidelity to the white supremacy cause.
Many black witnesses held police accountable for the bombing of the King house, and immediately began to express their anger. Some began to sing “We Shall Overcome,” while others began to throw rocks and other small objects. More people mobilized after the second blast. Many of them were already frustrated with the strategy of nonviolence as espoused by Martin Luther King, and turned to violence, and began to riot.
A crowd of about 2,500 people had formed and was blocking police cars and fire trucks from the Gaston Motel area. A fire that started at an Italian grocery store spread to the whole block. As traffic started to move, Birmingham Police drove their six-wheeled armored vehicle down the street, spraying tear gas.
The United States government intervened with federal troops for the first time to control violence during a civil rights related riot. It was also the first time the government had used military troops independently of enforcing a court injunction, an action was considered controversial by Governor George Wallace and other Alabama whites. The bombings and police response were a pivotal event that contributed to President Kennedy’s decision to propose civil rights legislation to achieve relief of injustice. It was ultimately passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.