Modern and Contemporary Art

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White Painting, 1964

Andy Warhol

American, 1928-1987
Oil and silkscreen on canvas
59-7/8 x 38-1/4 in. (152.1 x 97.2 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Irving Blum
P.1969.073

On view

Andy Warhol remains the de facto leader of Pop Art. As with most of his fellow artists who incorporated popular culture into their work, he had successful beginnings in commercial illustration. Using subjects from mass-circulated images as well as from photographs that he took himself, Warhol was able to comment on the nature of consumerism, and more broadly, on artifice and reality vis-à-vis the seemingly endless reproduction of imagery. White Painting is one such picture. Based on a photograph of a nude torso, the painting was intended to be seen at its clearest in the dark, under ultraviolet light. This restricted view allowed Warhol to play with the demarcation between the clandestine consumption of pornography and the public viewing of art. The mechanical reproduction of the image—like so many of his works, a silkscreen based on a photograph—naturally comments on how the female body has been used to sell everything from soda pop to sex itself.

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