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Andy Warhol. Marilyn, 1971. Silkscreen. Museum purchase through the John Needles Chester Fund 1983-8-1
Andy Warhol. Marilyn, 1971. Silkscreen. Museum purchase through the John Needles Chester Fund 1983-8-1
Andy Warhol
1971

35.75 x 35.75 in. (91 x 91 cm)

After graduating in graphic design from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh in 1949, Andy Warhol soon became a successful commercial artist. In the early 1960s, he became one of the leading figures of the American pop art movement.

Warhol used the silkscreen process borrowed from advertising to repeat single images of consumer goods, such as Brillo boxes and Campbell's soup cans, and Hollywood celebrities, including Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. The Marilyn Monroe series, initiated soon after the movie star's death in 1962, exemplifies Warhol's practice of equating commercial goods and celebrities; all are transformed into icons to be painted and subsequently sold at galleries.

Marilyn at Krannert Art Museum illustrates Warhol's deliberately sloppy approach; its forms and contours are flawed by the intentional misalignment of screens, uneven inking, and occasional smears. The artwork shows no trace of expressive gesture or artistic individuality. The image is not a representation of Monroe so much as a mechanical reproduction of her image as a popular icon. Warhol detaches the signifier (the image) from the signified (Marilyn Monroe) to demonstrate the power of representation in the commodity-centered culture of America.

Text by Li-Lin Tseng, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

 

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Charles Burchfield. The Four Seasons, 1949–1960. Watercolor. Festival of Arts Purchase Fund 1961-2-1
Charles Burchfield. The Four Seasons, 1949–1960. Watercolor. Festival of Arts Purchase Fund 1961-2-1
Charles Burchfield
1949–1960

56 x 48 inches

In an entry in his journal in 1916, Charles Burchfield scribbled an idea for painting "a tree showing winter at the bottom, Spring in the lower branches, summer in the upper with Autumn crowning the top with fruit." He was long fascinated by the subject of seasonal change, but the late watercolor The Four Seasons is the closest he ever came to realizing the ambition of representing it.

The foreground of this wooded scene is a shadowy winter landscape. A rich autumnal passage between the two foremost trees marks not only seasonal transformation but also a transition from the exterior to a bright, cathedral-like interior space and a spring landscape of yellows and greens. In the middle ground, a screen of trees forming pointed Gothic arches opens onto a summer landscape in the distance. The arches also point toward a life-giving sun that imbues the interior space with warmth and energy. As rays of light fall on the foreground trees, their branches fairly burst into orange flame. Burchfield's pictorial language of semi-abstract, calligraphic brushstrokes lends a sense of animate presence to this pictorial meditation on seasonal and spiritual metamorphosis.

In his early work in watercolor, Burchfield's preferred medium, he explored natural subjects around his hometown of Salem, Ohio. While his work of the 1920s and '30s focused on urban subject matter and the "American scene," in the 1940s he returned to painting the natural world, often reworking landscapes he had begun early in his career. The spiritual intensity of these late works places them in a romantic tradition extending back to the nineteenth-century landscapes of painters such as Casper David Friedrich and Thomas Cole.

Text by Michael Gaudio, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008