Andy Warhol‘s Saint Apollonia complete portfolio is inspired by a panel painting attributed to the workshop of Piero della Francesca (1470). Saint Apollonia is recognized as the patron saint of dentistry as it was believed that her teeth were broken with pincers during her martyrdom in the 3rd century.
Though most of Warhol’s work is not equated with piety or religious themes, Warhol was a devout Catholic, which he began to explore in his art towards the 70s. Warhol’s open homosexuality did not shake his reverence, despite the Church’s conflict with the subject, which served as a great source of inspiration for Warhol. Concentrically, through his Saint Apollonia prints, Warhol explores the iconography of religious idols and the veneration that is presented through faith. In fact, Andy Warhol’s relationship with the religious symbolism in the St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, which he attended in his youth, is speculated to be the inception of his interest in religious artwork.
However, the Saint Apollonia portfolio explores icons in a different way from his other suites, with a much more authentic representation of the original piece. Though he uses vibrant colors throughout the suite, they are muted in comparison with his other works, and the original image remains recognizable. As opposed to his typical style of applying color in broad strokes and creating purposefully misaligned layers to contort the image, Warhol executes these pieces with a precision and dedication to the original. There is very little cropping in this print compared to Francesca’s painting, and he preserves the “cracks” from the original, giving these images a texture to them that is true to the original. The Saint Apollonia complete portfolio includes FS II. 330, 331, 332, and 333.
Saint Apollonia Complete Portfolio As Part Of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
Warhol, like many artists, studied themes surrounding religion and their inherent iconography. Towards the end of his career, Warhol drew inspiration from Renaissance artists as seen in previous portfolios such as Birth Of Venus,Details of a Renaissance Painting, St. George And The Dragon, and The Annunciation. In this piece, he provides his artistic respect for the icon that is uniquely notable, excluding nothing from the original, perhaps paying homage to Francesca’s painting. The original, five-century-old portrait of Saint Apollonia hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, DC.