Electric Chair 80 by Andy Warhol is from his Electric Chairs portfolio published in 1971. This portfolio is part of his Death and Disaster series, in which he explored a variety of controversial images found in mass media. The image of the chair in Electric Chair 80 is abstracted and defamiliarized through muted color and fading, reducing the piece to a notation or blueprint.
Electric Chair 80 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
Like with many of Warhol’s work, he was commenting on American society with his Death and Disaster series. Warhol created the first image of the electric chair the same year that New York’s Sing Sing Penitentiary had its final two executions by electric chair. There was societal uproar during the 1960s surrounding the death penalty. Warhol was also commenting on society’s ability to numb itself from tragedy that occurs so regularly. Like we have seen with other works by Warhol, the repetition of an image begins to reduce its power. He said, “When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have any effect.” (“What is Pop Art?” 60) This is a concept that Warhol continues to play with throughout his career.