Wonderful World of Warhol

Article excerpt

Pop artists such as Andy Warhol became aware of commercial designs in our society and used them as the basis for their paintings, sculptures, silkscreens and so on.

Andy Warhol was famous for his paintings/silkscreens of famous people and name-brand products such as Campbell's[R] Soup. In the early 1960s, Warhol created many paintings/silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe. Warhol embraced the forms of popular culture ... many of his works show repeats of the same image colored or faded in different ways.

We decided to imitate the style of Warhol using digital photography images that we "tweaked" using the Kodak photo-shop program on the computer, and then hand-color them. I typically do this project with sixth through seventh grades, but it would be appropriate for grades five through 12.

To begin, we looked at Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe, 1962. It's a serigraph diptych in which each panel measures 4'4" x 4'9". The 50 images of Marilyn impressed the students. We also looked at Andy Warhol's 200 Soup Cans, 1962. This is done in casein on canvas and measures 6' x 8'4 1/8" I have a photo of myself standing in front of this at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The first thing the students were impressed with was the size. They could see the size by comparing me to the work of art. I was dwarfed by it.

The second thing they noticed that there were different varieties of soup names on the labels of the cans such as vegetable, onion, tomato and so on.

I posed the question, "Could Warhol be commenting on how overused and absurd advertising is by doing image after image of the same subject, or was he just fascinated by the possibilities of different treatments of the same subject?"

After being enlightened by Warhol works of art, we were ready for the hands-on work. Students had been asked to bring props to school for this particular week. They brought fishing poles, hats, sunglasses, wigs, etc. Then, adorned with props and striking a pose, the students took photos of each other on the digital camera.

The images were loaded onto the computer and printed in black and white. Next the students altered the photos using a photo-shop computer program. Some students used polarization and posterization along with heavy outlines. When the photo was to their liking they printed a black-and-white copy of the "tweaked" photo. …