Title: Electric Chair (FS II.81)
Medium: Screenprint on Paper
Size: 35 ½” x 48”
Edition:Edition of 250 signed and dated ’71 in ball-point pen and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso; some signed in pencil. 50 AP numbered in Roman numerals, signed and dated in ball-point pen on verso and stamped AP and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso. Portfolio of 10.
Electric Chair 81
Warhol created a portfolio of ten different Electric Chairs in 1971. This particular print is one of those ten and has a mostly orange color to it. Out of the other prints in this portfolio, it also has a more painterly feel to it, with a yellow stroke through the center of it. While the other prints in this portfolio are mostly two colors, a foreground and a background, this particular print has more color variations in it. The idea of taking an object that held so much power, and isolating it, abstracting it and repeating it, is something that Warhol continues to do throughout his career. Also, by doing that the image is no longer about the electric chair and what it does, it’s about the image itself and the colors found in it.
Electric Chair 81 AS PART OF ANDY WARHOL’S LARGER BODY OF WORK:
One of Warhol’s most famous series was his Death and Disaster series where he explored images of plane crashes, suicides and car crashes found in the media. They are his most controversial and thought provoking works, even today. Warhol first used the image of the electric chair in 1963, which was the year that New York State had its final to executions at Sing Sing Penitentiary. During that time, there was a lot of political controversy around the death penalty in America, which is why Warhol wanted to explore the idea in his work. Also, Warhol was preoccupied with all of the news reports about violent deaths and he felt that by taking images from the media and repeating them he would remove their meaning. He once said, “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any affect.” (Swenson, “What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters, Part I,” Art News 62 (November 1963): 24-27, p. 60-63) Warhol continues with this idea throughout his career with many different subjects.