Andy Warhol, ‘Electric Chair Complete Portfolio (FS II.74 - FS II.83)’, 1971, Revolver Gallery

Warhol created a portfolio of ten different Electric Chairs in 1971. The idea of taking an object that held so much power, and isolating it, abstracting it and repeating it, is something that Warhol continues to do throughout his career. By doing so, the image is no longer about the electric chair and what it does, it’s about the image itself and the colors found in it.

One of Warhol’s most famous series was his Death and Disaster series where he explored images of plane crashes, suicides and car crashes found in the media. They are his most controversial and thought provoking works, even today. Warhol first used the image of the electric chair in 1963, which was the year that New York State had its final to executions at Sing Sing Penitentiary. During that time, there was a lot of political controversy around the death penalty in America, which is why Warhol wanted to explore the idea in his work. Also, Warhol was preoccupied with all of the news reports about violent deaths and he felt that by taking images from the media and repeating them he would remove their meaning. He once said, “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any affect.” (Swenson, “What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters, Part I,” Art News 62 (November 1963): 24-27, p. 60-63) Warhol continues with this idea throughout his career with many different subjects.

Signature: Edition of 250 signed and dated ’71 in ball-point pen and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso; some signed in pencil. Portfolio of 10.

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