Andy Warhol

Skulls

Screenprint on Strathmore Bristol paper.
1976
30″ x 40″
Edition of 50, 10 AP, signed and numbered in pencil lower left.
Portfolio of 4 screenprints.
Printer: Gem Screens, New York
Publisher: Andy warhol Enterprises, Inc., New York

Andy Warhol – Edition Prints – Skulls

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Andy Warhol Skulls is a range of artworks created by artist Andy Warhol.

Skulls is Warhol’s definitive portrait of death and his admission that mortality is the core vein that runs
through his work. Evoking both Warhol’s individual autobiography and the unavoidable inevitability that
affects us all, it is the mature climax of his Deaths and Disasters, even standing as the memento mori for the
Pop generation itself. Indeed, despite the various interpretative possibilities for its subject matter, ultimately
this work exemplifies Andy Warhol’s Pop vision. Although it evokes the art historical identities of the skull
subject as both primeval spectre for unknowable death and as contemplative vanitas, as well as a host of
other cultural analogies from the talismans of tribal Aztec art to the existentialism of a horrifying cadaver by
Picasso, Skulls is ultimately Pop Art incarnate. The colours and texture of these unbeatable screens are
simply sensational. Archetypal of Warhol’s unmistakable Pop aesthetic, it casts death as the final celebrity
and thus completes his epic survey of contemporary icons from Liz to Marlon and Marilyn to Elvis. Warhol
once said that “Death can really make you look like a star”, but with Skulls it is death itself that has become
the star (the artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Bilbao, Guggenheim, Andy Warhol, A Factory, 2000, n.p.).
Death is the silent participant whose long shadow unites Warhol’s most important work, and Skulls delivers
the artist’s most direct confrontation with this nemesis celebrity as the final portrait.

When Andy Warhol first burst onto the artistic stage in the 1960s’, he did so by incorporating images that were firmly embedded in the American psyche. His bright and colorful paintings and serigraphs presented images that were commonplace — a soup can or coke bottle — but were transformed by his technique into artistic icons of popular culture. Warhol was most interested in image and not reality, although one could say that by casting these mass produced commercial images in his own unique style, Warhol was making a comment on the reality of living in a world that was dominated by images from the advertising and entertainment industries. Warhol’s prints are in essence images of images. They are at least once removed, and often several times removed, from reality. His famous prints of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, not to mention countless other celebrities, are based on photographs. As in the case with Marilyn Monroe, many of those photographs are of his subjects posing as a character, not as themselves, a subtle reminder that once someone achieves a certain celebrity status, they become further and further removed from their real selves. How many layers must one remove to finally see the real person depicted in a Warhol print?