Andy Warhol: Uncle Sam

Andy Warhol’s 1981 “Myths” portfolio is among the artist’s most sought-after print series. The 10 silkscreens showcase a variety of fictional characters, from Santa Claus to Superman, that Warhol viewed as essential components of American culture. While Warhol often used found images for his portraits of celebrities, he took a different approach for the “Myths” portfolio. The Pop artist invited friends and actors into his studio to pose for his Polaroid camera, dressed up as Dracula, Uncle Sam, the mammy archetype, and the Wicked Witch of the West from the film The Wizard of Oz. Warhol even cast himself as The Shadow, the crime-fighting hero made famous by a series of novels, radio, and comic strips. These Polaroids and the resulting silkscreens—released in a variety of colors with some adorned with diamond dust—are quintessential Warhols, showcasing the power and persuasion of popular culture. “Everybody has their own America,” the Pop artist once explained. “You live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.”