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16 of the Most Famous Andy Warhol Paintings

Andy Warhol, the eminent American artist, occupies the most significant position among the practitioners of the 1960’s Visual Art Movement “Pop Art”, dealing with subject matters very much existent in the viewer’s immediate environment. Warhol used commercial items such as Brillo boxes, soup cans, and even handguns, so as to critically showcase the growing abundance of his times and to deliberately distance his paintings from personal involvement.

Andy Warhol

One of the most acclaimed commercial illustrators in New York, Warhol began his career with the blotted line technique but switched his attention to pop art around 1960. In 1961, by a friend’s suggestion, he started painting simple things like a can of soup and a currency note. After his first exhibition in an art gallery in 1962 at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, all his paintings were sold as a set for a $1000. Then in July 1962, he plunged headlong for another media, silk screening, a technique using a specially made section of silk as a stencil to produce an assembly of Warhol “originals” in a number of sizes and colors. He went on to make paintings of celebrities like American actress Marilyn Monroe employing this style.

Highly acclaimed for revolutionizing the concept of art, Warhol completely justifies the title bestowed on him, “Pope of Pop Art”.

Biography of Andy Warhol in a Nutshell

Original Name Andrew Warhola
Birth August 6, 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S
Nationality American
Death February 22, 1987, New York City, New York, U.S.
Mentor Charles Henri Ford
Periods Pop art, Abstract expressionism, Modern art, Naïve art, Contemporary art

Best Paintings by Andy Warhol

1. Campbell’s Soup Cans

Andy Warhol Soup Cans Painting

Completed in: 1962
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 51 cm x 41 cm
Location: Museum of Modern Art
Medium: Synthetic polymer paint

Consisting of 32 canvases, each representing the 32 varieties, offered by the company in those times, this magnanimous work manifests Warhol’s skilled utilization of a theme highly relevant regarding the booming prosperity the Americans enjoyed. He craftily creates an experience of being in a huge supermarket, and in doing so, his art is said to both celebrate and criticize the expanding abundance of his day.

2. Marilyn Diptych

Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe Painting

Completed in: 1962
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 205.44 cm × 289.56 cm
Location: Tate Gallery
Medium: Acrylic paint on canvas

Marilyn Monroe’s publicity photograph in the 1953 film “Niagara” was the basis for this masterpiece of 59 images. Strikingly, 25 of them appearing on the left side have a brilliant shade, while the 25 on the left have a faded tone in black and white. Following the actor’s death in August 1962, the painting is considered by many critics to portray the star’s mortality. Regarded an iconic symbol of pop art, Marilyn Diptych was declared the 3rd most influential piece of modern art by “The Guardian”.

Another painting known as “Turquoise Marilyn”, also revolving around Marilyn Monroe, claims to be one of the most expensive paintings in the world, having been sold for a grand, $ 17.3 million.

3. Oxidation or Urine Painting

Andy Warhol Urine Painting

Completed in: 1978
Style: Abstract Expressionism
Measurements: 193 x 132.1 cm
Location:  Gagosian Gallery
Medium: Urine on metallic pigment in acrylic pigment on canvas

Also referred to as the “Piss Paintings” the creation of these ingenious artworks involved a gruesome phenomenon. A group of friends was invited to urinate on a horizontally placed copper canvas so that it would oxidize. As the uric acid reacted with the copper, mineral salt deposits evolved at varied rates, at times turning green or blue or black. As per Warhol’s estimation, “[these paintings] had technique, too. If I asked someone to do an Oxidation painting, and they just wouldn’t think about it, it would just be a mess. Then I did it myself — and it’s just too much work — and you try to figure out a good design”. Today, this mind-blowing work triggers multiple interpretations, to some, it’s an insult to art, while to others, it is a poignant reflection of the liberty art endows.

4. Gun

Andy Warhol Gun Painting

Completed in: 1982
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 177.2 × 228 cm
Medium: Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas

After Warhol recovered from the brutal gunshot by American radical feminist Valerie Solanas, he was shaken both mentally and physically. But, even much before the incident, he was obsessed with the idea of life and death. Made almost 13 years post the assault, the paintings are a vivid portrayal of the way violence was commercialized in Warhol’s society.

5. Cow Series

Andy Warhol Cow Painting

Completed in: 1966
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 117 cm × 71 cm
Location: The Andy Warhol Museum, North Shore, Pittsburgh
Medium: Screen print on wallpaper

Though Warhol did not have any interest in painting cows, he got involved chiefly due to the influences of the Pop art dealer, Ivan Karp along with printmaker Gerard Malanga. The foremost in the print series, it manifests Warhol’s extensive usage of bright and vibrant colors to produce the impression of seeing the subject on an acid strip.  Actually, the series consists of four-color schemes   “Pink Cow on Yellow Background” (1966), “Brown Cow with Blue Background” (1971), “Yellow Cow on Blue Background” (1971) and finally “Pink Cow on Purple Background” (1976). All the screenprints imbibed a decorative quality when they were printed on wallpaper.

6. Skulls

Andy Warhol Skull Painting

Completed in: 1976
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 335.3 × 381 cm
Location: Gagosian Gallery
Medium: Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas

For this stunning piece, Ronnie Cutrone, one of his assistants, had been asked by Warhol to take several pictures of a skull, placed on a trestle in different light zones. Warhol wanted to make his painting under a variety of dramatic shadows so that it became an amalgamation of an array of lights and darkness. As expected, the foreheads, as well as the cheekbones of the skulls, are brightly lit but the eye sockets are cast in deep shadow. Comprising of 6 canvases, each of the skulls in vertical grids of 3 rows of 2, produces a photographic image that is unparalleled and unique.

7. Details of Renaissance Paintings Series

Andy Warhol Details of Renaissance Paintings

Completed in: 1984
Style: Pop Art
Medium: Screenprint on arches aquarelle (cold pressed)

The series of paintings here claims recognition for the departure Warhol undertook in 1984 from drawing his habitual celebrity portraits. Cropping images of old master paintings, he infused in these vibrant hues in kitschy style, a dimension that was predominantly his forte. Moreover, the silkscreening method essentially eased his process of recreating the original masterpieces.

9. Dollar Sign

Andy Warhol Dollar sign Painting

Completed in: 1981
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 101.6 cm x 82.28 cm
Location: Tate Gallery, Scotland
Medium: Acrylic paint and silkscreen on canvas

A product of acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, this painting is noteworthy in highlighting the relevance currency enjoyed in society and precisely in Warhol’s life. The pop artist had a fervent desire to accumulate wealth, and the work sketches his fixation of glitz, glamour, and affluence.

10. Superman

Andy Warhol Superman Painting

Completed in: 1981
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 96.5 × 96.5 cm
Medium: color screenprint and diamond dust

Warhol’s Myths portfolio contained several characters from Mickey Mouse to Dracula, of which Superman is one. The iconic figure in his red and blue cape is here juxtaposed with another image with a lighter outline, thereby presenting the impression that he has been captured while still in flight.

11. Banana

Andy Warhol Banana Painting

Completed in: 1966
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 13 × 30 cm
Medium: Screenprint on styrene

Warhol was the manager of the band “The Velvet Underground” in the 1960’s and as the cover for their debut album, he chose to paint a banana; an unusual theme that has been a mystery to his fans ever since. Nonetheless, it is based on how, stumbling upon a banana peel in a junk shop, Warhol had hitched on to the idea.

12. The Flower Series

Andy Warhol Flower Paintings

Completed in: 1970
Style: Pop Art
Medium: Offset lithograph

Again reminiscent of a departure from the world of consumerism, this painting drew its source from photographs taken by the nature photographer, Patricia Caulfield that were published in the 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Dwelling on an abstract subject, the paintings were sold out as soon as they were put on show.

13. Eight Elvises

Andy Warhol Elvis Painting

Completed in: 1963
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 200 cm × 370 cm
Location: Private collection
Medium: Silkscreen ink

Having a 12-foot frame, it features 8 identical images of the enigmatic American singer Elvis Presley, all overlapping with one another. Sold for a whopping US$100 million in 2008, this masterpiece of Presley, clad in cowboy attire, is noteworthy for making Warhol the 5th artist to get a work sold for $100 million.

14. Mao

Andy Warhol Mao Painting

Completed in: 1972
Style: Pop Art
Location: Tate Gallery
Medium: Screenprint on paper

As a reaction to U.S. President Richard Nixon’s first visit to China in 1972, Warhol got hold of the totalitarian leader, Mao Zedong and created hundreds of varied sized canvases of him. He combined paint with silkscreen and chose canvases as large as 15 ft x 10 ft for suggesting through his drawing the power mao exercised over China. However, the graffiti-like splashes of color, the blue eyeshadow resulted in defacing Mao’s image. In fact, the expressionist brushstrokes of Warhol reflect the freedom art enjoys to drive home the point of view of the artist, in this case, a poignant rejection of Communist propaganda.

8. Lips

Andy Warhol Lips Painting

Completed in: 1975
Style: Pop Art
Location: Artists Project Gallery
Medium: Unique screenprint and tape collage

Comprising of 60 pairs of lips created out of prints and collages of images delicately silkscreened into multiple tapes, this entire series of 3 albums upholds Warhol’s fascination with mouths.  In fact, the three albums utterly dedicated to “lips” also recall Warhol’s iconic images on Monroe, Taylor and even Chairman Mao, where his intentional outlining of each pair of lips rendered them as the focal point of each work.

15. Shoes

Andy Warhol Shoes Painting

Completed in: 1981
Style: Pop Art
Location: Tate Gallery
Medium: Screenprint on paper

Warhol’s earliest paintings when he worked as a young fashion illustrator in 1950’s, concerned shoes high heels, pumps, or jeweled stilettos. This work, made on medium weight cover stock in 1981, depicts his inclination towards his favorite subject even after he had gained fame as an artist. Specifically, the high-quality printing imparts this piece a sharp appearance and its silken finish endows an elegant look.

16. Rorschach

Andy Warhol Rorschach Paintings

Completed in: 1984
Style: Pop Art
Measurements: 417.2 x 292.1 cm
Location: Museum of Modern art Europe
Medium: Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

The whole objective behind Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach’s ingenious phenomenon, called “Rorschach Test”, in making his patients say what they saw in a set of 10 standardized ink blots was to gain an idea of one’s unconsciousness. Warhol seized the idea since he firmly believed that when a person saw an abstract art, he just interpreted it as per his thoughts, as opposed to what the artist had tried to convey. Accordingly, we have a large series of Rorschach paintings that seek to surface the viewer’s own perception, whether some insect, simple wallpaper designs or even a human genitalia.

Besides these, there are other paintings like that of Jim Morrison, John Lenon, Farrah Fawcett, and Mick Jagger along with those in black and white that are equally noteworthy.

By|Last Updated : 30th November 2017

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