Andy Warhol painted a variety of paintings of the actress Marilyn Monroe after she committed suicide in August 1962. In the following four months, Warhol made more than twenty silkscreen paintings of her, all based on the same publicity photograph from the 1953 film Niagara. Warhol found in Monroe a fusion of two of his consistent themes: death and the cult of celebrity.
Andy Warhol painted Marilyn Monroe pictures with one color: green, blue, yellow, orange turquoise. He went on silk checking her face on top. Thus, he creates a variety of styles and represent different colors. In the pictures, or she herself, multiplied in a grid or two times. After four months, the Andy Warhol painting was complete. Andy Warhol published a portfolio of his paintings of Marilyn Monroe in 1967.
Andy Warhol interest in fame inspired him to make his Marilyn Monroe paintings. Warhol admired Marilyn Monroe as a star. He was fascinated by her beauty and thought of her as a role model. In his art work, he portrayed Monroe as not only beautiful, but also dark and mysterious. Warhol invented the phrase, "fifteen minutes of fame" which means a celebrity such as Monroe catches the public's attention for a short lived period of time. Then, the media moves on to other celebrities who fascinate the world.
The Marilyn canvases were early examples of Warhol’s use of silkscreen printing, a method the artist experimented with, recalling:
Buy Marilyn Monroe, 1967 (hot pink) print
In August 62 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face the first Marilyns.
(25.5 in. x 28 in.)