Andy Warhol created a portfolio of ten different Electric Chairs in 1971. The premise of taking an object that holds a very specific meaning, isolating, abstracting and repeating it, is something that Warhol does throughout his work. By performing this process in his Electric Chair complete portfolio, the subject is no longer the electric chair and what it does; it’s about the image itself and the colors found in it.
One of Warhol’s most famous series was his Death and Disaster series, in which he explored images of plane crashes, suicides and car crashes found in the media. They are his most controversial and thought-provoking works, as they add another darker dimension to Warhol’s artwork. Warhol first used the image of the electric chair in 1963, the year in which New York State had its final two executions at Sing Sing Penitentiary. Warhol decided to explore the theme of capital punishment in his work at the time, as it was a topical political theme that incited great contention.
Warhol also remained preoccupied with the overwhelming amount of news reports about violent deaths, and by taking and repeating these images from the media, he could comment on the desensitization of such pressing issues. As he once said, “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect.” (Swenson, “What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters, Part I,” Art News 62 (November 1963): 24-27, p. 60-63). Revolver Gallery has a complete portfolio of Warhol’s Electric Chair (FS II.74-83) available for purchase, as well as individual prints from the series.