Created in 1981, Andy Warhol’s Myths complete portfolio consists of ten screenprints meant to capture the imaginary characters popular during the 20th century in American pop culture. Most of the images used were taken from history, literature, classic Hollywood films and television from the 1950s. It is said that each image represents a different part of Warhol’s personality. For instance, his use of the comic book hero Superman stems from his childhood when he was diagnosed with an immobilizing sickness and spent the majority of his time with comic books and movie magazines to keep him occupied. He was so preoccupied by his physical appearance, constant ailments, anxiety and insecurities that he found great appeal in the character of Clark Kent who goes through this transformation of mild mannered and looked-over to a great superhero. Notably, the complete Myths series is included in Warhol’s top 10 most valuable portfolios of all time.
Warhol’s portrayal of famous television and movie actors and characters like John Wayne and Howdy Doody also fed into his obsession with fame and stardom. He also had a great obsession with Christmas, which likely explains his inclusion of Santa Claus in his Myths complete portfolio. Apart from this, Warhol also created Christmas related drawings of wreaths, Christmas trees, poinsettias and ornaments, some of which were featured in a Christmas Auction for Christie’s in 2013.
Unlike traditional mythological figures, Greek gods and goddesses, the motifs Warhol used in Myths capture the modern imagination and portray America’s powerful and enchanted past. They represent fantasies, hopes, dreams, and fears. The Myths complete portfolio includes The Star, Uncle Sam, The Witch, Mammy, Howdy Doody, Dracula, Mickey Mouse, Superman. Santa Claus and The Shadow: FS II.258-267.