Marilyn Diptych

Andy Warhol (1962)

In celebration of Andy Warhol’s birthday, born on this day in 1928, I wanted to share this interesting short documentary about him and his most famous creation the Marilyn Diptych. Enjoy!

Andy Warhol made Marilyn Diptych in 1962, right after Marilyn Monroe’s death. By the 1960s Marilyn’s film career as a sex symbol was all but over. Warhol would effectively immortalize Marilyn as the sex symbol of the 20th century. The seductive blonde Marilyn with the heavy-lidded eyes and parted lips is frozen in time. She is transformed into the personification of the allure and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Marilyn would make Warhol a household name, and Warhol would make Marilyn an icon.

Marilyn Diptych is perhaps his greatest canvas, bringing together celebrity, death and exposure. It is both a warning and a love letter to America. Warhol, who is often criticized as vacuous or superficial, produced art, that is profoundly subversive and quite simply a perfect mirror of our times.

Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe were both the embodiment of the American dream. They also, both projected a vacant persona that made sure nobody knew the real person behind the mask.

The Marilyn Diptych is a silkscreen painting by American pop artist Andy Warhol depicting Marilyn Monroe. The monumental work is one of the artist’s most noted of the movie star. The painting consists of 50 images. Each image of the actress is taken from the single publicity photograph from the film Niagara. The underlying publicity photograph that Warhol used as a basis for his many paintings and prints of Marilyn, and the Marilyn Diptych, was owned and distributed by her movie studio. Marilyn Diptych was completed just weeks after Marilyn Monroe’s death in August 1962.

Silkscreen printing was the technique used to create this painting. The twenty-five images on the left are painted in color, the right side is black and white.

The Marilyn Diptych is in the collection of the Tate.

It has been suggested that the relation between the left side of the canvas and the right side of the canvas is evocative of the relation between the celebrity’s life and death. The work has received praise from writers such as American academic and cultural critic Camille Paglia, who wrote in 2012’s Glittering Images lauding how it shows the “multiplicity of meanings” in Monroe’s life and legacy.

In a December 2, 2004 article in The Guardian, the painting was named the third most influential piece of modern art in a survey of 500 artists, critics, and others. The artwork was also ranked ninth in the past 1,000 years by Kathleen Davenport, Director, Rice University Art Gallery, Houston.

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