Andy Warhol, ‘Birmingham Race Riot (FS II.3)’, 1964, Revolver Gallery

irmingham Race Riot 3 is a sobering image of the civil disorder event that took place in Birmingham, Alabama. The piece represents social injustice, a theme not often explored by Warhol. While many of his pieces may allude to societal issues, this print is one of the only Warhol pieces that explicitly demonstrates the need for racial equality, a major matter of contention in society at the time. Warhol adds none of his usual pomp and flair to this print, which is strictly black and white, much like the racial divide that was the source of unfair and inhumane treatment. The bold contrast of the black shadows against the stark-white highlights, emphasize the dramatic structure of the scene.

Warhol recreated a scene that occurred in 1963, in which an agreement to partial desegregation of public spaces led to the violent clash between the Birmingham Police Department and black civilians of Birmingham. Warhol Race Riot is a print that was created early on in Warhol’s artistic career, which was based off a photograph taken by Charles Moore in Life, May 17, 1963. Warhol later made painted versions of the same subject.

About Andy Warhol

Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.

American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York