This exhibition showcases a selection of prints and multiples by Andy Warhol that GL Arte has had in its portfolio for sale or exhibition over the last six months. These artworks are representative of key themes of the artist’s distinctive printmaking ability over three decades.

Imagery and the Creative Process:

Warhol’s images take inspiration from a variety of sources. He had an ability tunderstand popular culture and the myths of his time, uniting people in their memories or subjects in their everyday life. His subjects ranged from portraits of famous people (actors, musicians, athletes, etc.) to relatively unknown ones (the New York drag queens of the Ladies and Gentlemen series), flowers, monuments, animals, consumer products, and so on. Warhol would borrow images from other artists, present and past, other illustrators, and the news. He would also take them himself with his ever-present Polaroid camera. This was a great example of the language of contemporary everyday life, which he would turn into art. In Warhol’s popular culture, art is a repetitive image of what people see every day. This “replication” well translates into printmaking as a language, and it is one of the essences of Pop Art. Warhol’s language is about the power of images that are simple and common to many at the same time, going beyond nationality, social class, race, background; images that are Icons within North America and in the world at large.

Language of Printing:

Andy Warhol used the print not only as a type of media to produce art but also as a symbol of replicating an identical image with the artistic idea of repetition, as well as to enable more people to enjoy his art, making it more “popular.” Warhol once said: “Repetition adds up to reputation.” These concepts are in line with his initial work as an illustrator for the advertising industry (1949-1962) and with his creation of prints on everyday objects in the 1960s, such as shopping bags and wallpaper, and his regular use of photography. He also experimented with Xerox copying and replication of screen prints with the same image in various sizes and media. On the other hand, from the 1970s, Warhol used the concept of Trial Proof to make prints, repetitive in nature, also unique, differing from one another typically in terms of unique colorways applied. This gives the print, typically more affordable than a painting, an aura of exclusivity. The colors used in the prints, which were different in each trial proof, provided an abstract feel to the subjects, particularly with the heavily inked, collage-like color blocks on top of the screen-printed photo images.

Printing Process:

The idea of repetition and artworks, particularly prints, as a serial production process brought Andy Warhol to create his studio similarly to a production line, and he also called it “The Factory.” This was to increase the speed of print production but also to stress the concept of democratizing art. Along the years, he blurred the boundaries between painting, printing, and drawing, also bringing elements of uniqueness to editioned prints. Warhol and his team would reuse screens in paintings and prints of different size, colors, and repeat them over the years. The printing process evolved from the initial use of commercial offset lithograph on ordinary paper to ever more expensive silk screening on museum paper and to the addition of materials such as diamond dust. Prints became more layered, with drawn lines over blocks of colors, over photographic images, which were practically a background to the artwork. The evolution in Warhol’s printmaking technique was accompanied by collaborations with master printers, such as Alexander Heinrici in the mid-1970s, and Rupert Jasen Smith in the 1980s.

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