Truck 370 is one of four screenprints in Andy Warhol’s 1985 Truck portfolio. The suite was published by Hermann Wunsche and was commissioned by the Bundesverband des Deutschen Guterfernverkehrs (BGL)—known in English as the Federal Association of Road Haulage Logistics and Disposal. The suite commemorates the twentieth World Congress of International Road Transportation Union (IRU). The IRU congress meets annually to discuss the future of road transportation in the European Union.
Printed by Rupert Jasen Smith in New York on Lenox Museum Board, the portfolio consists of four screenprints of the same photograph of a semi truck in different color palettes. In each print, the truck appears in precise color blocking with bright outlining that effects a striking illusion of movement.
The linework that is so much a part of the Truck portfolio is a staple of this era of Warhol’s art. By adding line details to his screenprint compositions, Warhol allows the subjects of his prints to jump off the page. Warhol’s 1981 Superman 260 portrait from the Myths series and his 1984 Birth of Venus portfolio both utilize this technique on living subjects, but the effect is even more pronounced in the Truck portfolio as the lines breathe life into a largely unremarkable photo of a truck—animating an inanimate object.
Although Warhol was not known for his artistic representations of vehicles, Truck 370 is just one illustration of Warhol’s interest in vehicles as symbols of American consumerism. Warhol’s vast portfolio contains prints of a wide variety of vehicles from Cadillacs to Formula One race cars. In 1979, Warhol also designed a BMW Art Car—the fourth of just 19 artists given this opportunity in the years since 1975. Additionally, prior to his death, Warhol worked on a commission for Mercedes-Benz which would have featured prints of 20 models of Mercedes-Benz vehicles past and present. Warhol passed away before he could complete the commission, but the prints he did complete are stunning. The Mercedes-Benz series also marked the first time that Warhol portrayed non-American designed objects.
Warhol completed the Truck portfolio just a year before he began the Mercedes-Benz commission. Despite the elegance of a Mercedes-Benz in comparison to the mundane nature of the subject of the Truck portfolio, Warhol represents each vehicle with the same attention to detail.
Truck 370 depicts the semi truck in the darkest color palette of the portfolio. Against a completely black background, the body of the truck is indistinguishable from its backdrop with the exception of a gradient of dark blue detail lines. The cargo container of the semi truck appears in light gray with blue and yellow details. The upper boundaries of the truck are outlined in a thick stripe of bright pink that further separates the cargo container from the background. All of these details illustrate the truck as a means of carrying cargo, highlighting the IRU’s emphasis on promoting commerce.
With Truck 370, Warhol illustrates the role of vehicles in trade beautifully, portraying the truck as both a commodity in and of itself as well as a vessel of commerce.