Shadows V 224 by Andy Warhol is one of two prints from the artist’s 1979 Shadows V portfolio. Made up of bright orange, red, and black, Shadows V 224 is an original print that exemplifies the characteristics of Warhol’s larger, 102-print Shadows project (includes Shadows I, II, III, IV, and V). Warhol said, “Someone asked me if I thought they were art and I said no…disco décor.” Playing on this idea, it seemed that Warhol felt as if this series was reminiscent of wallpaper more so than high art.
When Shadows was exhibited, all 5 print series form one giant, continuous flow of dark and mysterious artwork. They were first exhibited in 1979 at the Heiner Freidrich gallery in New York, the same year Warhol published the series. Shadows V 224 includes diamond dust, a medium Warhol also used in his Shoes and Grapes series. The idea of employing diamond dust was inspired by Rupert Jasen Smith, who previously used crushed glass “diamond dust” in his works. Warhol referred to Smith as his “master” printer, and he co-published the Shadows prints with him.
Warhol himself never saw all 102 panels of the Shadows suite together. He left no instructions on the order in which to hang them and since the pieces are not numbered, they can be hung at random. Perhaps leaving room for play, he allowed viewers to have a new experience each time the panels are installed. This idea evokes a new concept, which is not seen in any of Warhol’s other works, as most of his pieces, although are made in a series, are meant to hang individually.
Warhol is well known for his images of popular culture and the repetition of those images. Although Shadows V 224 and its accompanying works divert from the traditional mass media objects that Warhol famously created, the series illustrates his interest in creating prints that all bear the same compositional aspects, yet are still able to hold onto their individual uniqueness. Warhol’s Shadows V series is a direct continuation of the other Shadows portfolios as it features similar compositional imagery and color schemes.