Truck 369 by Andy Warhol is a classic screen print from the artist’s Truck portfolio, which considers the 20th century’s relationship with motor vehicles. Commissioned by the German Bundesverband des Deutschen Güterfernverkehrs (Federal Association of German Long-Distance Goods Transport), the portfolio celebrates the 20th International Road Transportation Union World Congress (IRU).
The background of Truck 369 is a vibrant red that also highlights the frame of the truck. Brown, orange, and light blue is the main vehicular color palette. The image combines multimedia elements of color blocks with sketched details that examine the beautiful intricacies of the cab’s form. Truck 369 follows multiple planes of diagonal lines to create a flowing sense of movement, almost as if the vehicle will pass right in front of the viewer. The composition is in two-point perspective, creating a sense of volume in the monotone red space of the background, and further engaging audiences with the feeling of movement along a roadway.
Each image in the Truck portfolio seems to emphasize different elements of trucks and/or the driving process. In Truck 369, the colors appear to stress the truck’s size rather than its function. Compared to works like Truck 370, whose cab is the same tone as the background, the contrasts in this print make the truck seem strikingly larger, even though both take up an equal amount of space.
By the 1980s, Warhol completely mastered the silkscreen technique. He used multilayer screen printing in Truck, which enabled the image to become deeply pigmented. This method requires layering the same simple colors overtop one another for deeper values. At the same time, Warhol’s detailed sketching and linework soften the industrial nature of the print. This balance allows the work to appear both bold and delicate, without letting the vibrant colors dominate the canvas.
The same year Warhol printed Truck 369, he also created the Volkswagen (Lemon) piece as a part of his Ads series, conveying in it the emblematic role of cars for the American consumer. Although Truck 369 was a commissioned piece, the creative process and style undoubtedly reflects the familiar themes of consumerism and mass production present in many of his other series. As he notably remarked, “The reason I’m painting this way is that I want to be a machine. And I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do.”
In Truck 369, Warhol canonizes the modern truck: the ultimate symbol of commerce and distribution. His artistic expression not only conveys his ideology, but reflects the enthralled perspective of trucks held by those who commissioned the series. Through bold colors, spatial awareness, and intricate detailing, Warhol created a piece that acknowledges a twenty year celebration of the truck’s impact and journey into the future.
Photo Credit: Andy Warhol’s polaroid titled Mack Truck taken in 1982. Unique gelatin silver print, 8 × 10 in. 20.3 × 25.4 cm. Courtesy of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.