The Orangutan, as shown in Andy Warhol’s Orangutan 299, is native to Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, but due to the expansion of civilization and negative environmental factors, today they are only found in Borneo and Sumatra. They are extremely intelligent primates, which has provoked many humans to take them as pets, contributing to their fragile placement in the ecosystem. Warhol’s outline of the animal in Orangutan 299 gives it a hopelessness through its eyes that expands on that of the original picture, making it one of the more compelling pieces of the series.
Orangutan 299 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
In 1983 Warhol was commissioned by his friend and publisher Ron Feldman and his wife Freyda to create this series. Both Freyda and Ronald were celebrated political activists who were very active philanthropists. In 1983, they asked Warhol to create a portfolio of ten endangered species to raise environmental consciousness. Warhol fondly referred to this series as his “animals in makeup,” given the bold pop colors he uses to portray the animals as larger than life. The portfolio features some of Warhol’s most vibrant and surreal colors, which highlight the features of the animals in an abstract manner.