An Analysis of Andy Warhol's Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962)

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The sixties were a time of social and political change in America, and the art world was not left untouched. Early in the decade a new movement focused on popular culture and national icons began to develop. It was aptly named Pop art. "Many critics were alarmed by Pop, uncertain whether it was embracing or parodying popular culture and fearful that it threatened the survival of both modernist art and high culture..." (Stokstad 1101) Pop artists were not the first to make cultural statements with their work, however controversial art always draws criticism and attention. One of the most well known artists of the Pop movement was Andy Warhol, a young commerial illustrator from manhattan. Warhol's use of popular icons and brands as the focus of his art is what made him famous. The Warhol painting I will be analyzing is Gold Marilyn Monroe.

As an artist, Warhol used techniques that had rarely, if ever, been seen in the art world. He often combined painting and photography, by painting canvases silk screened with an image with bright abstract colors. Though he often used his own photography, he was also known for using the photography of others when he wished to portray a subject he never had or never would have the opportunity to photograph. The painting is a portrait of a young woman's face which has been silk screened on to the canvas. You can see very little of her clothing, because of the tight crop of the painting, however she appears to be wearing a garment that ties behind her neck. Her hair is short, yet falls close to her head below her ears. It is softly waved and curled at the ends, and Warhol has painted it a bright golden yellow. The woman has a square jaw, high cheekbones, and a light complexion painted a pale pink. Her eyes are heavily lidded and accented with highly arched dark eyebrows. The woman's gaze is focused directly on the viewer of the painting. She has a short rounded nose. The woman is smiling revealing a row of bright teeth. Her top...