ANDY WARHOL | SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE 1967 MARILYN’S
Death and celebrity. Andy Warhol canonized both. From the time Andy was a small boy he had a fascination with iconic famous females. As a boy he sent away for (and received) an autographed photo of Shirley Temple. This was perhaps his first documented fascination with an iconic female.
In the Spring of 1962 while wrapping up some new ads and-and comic strips, Andy visited a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit at Leo Castelli Gallery. The gallery owner was a friend and trying to convince Warhol to put together a show. At this point, Warhol had failed to make an impact on the art world. His previous shows dating back to 1954 had all been failures. It was during this visit to California that the model for all future Andy Warhol endeavour and success’s would happen.
Andy LOVED to solicit opinions. He frequently is quoted as saying NONE of his idea’s where original or even his own. It was one such conversation on this trip to California that led to the inspiration for his first commercial, artistic success. (Andy was already a successful commercial graphic artist). A friend suggested focusing on celebrity or possibly a mundane commercial product. Like soup.
This had to feel like a stroke of inspiration since Andy’s mother had fed him Cambell’s soup throughout his childhood. The “soup cans” were produced tracing projections onto canvas. These paintings were produced for a show opening in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery. They where expecting comic strips and instead got 32 different Campbells soup cans.
The show was a commercial success with Andy Warhol selling ALL 32 Campbell’s soup cans. They sold to the gallery owner for $1000.00.
In August of 1962, Marilyn Monroe died. Considering Andy Warhol’s successes of the spring and summer of 62 stemming from a conversation that spring this iconic celebrity passing death must have seemed like destiny.
Less than 24 hours after her death Andy Warhol had acquired a publicity shot of Marilyn Monroe from her 1952 Movie “Niagra”. This is the image AFTER Warhols notes on how the image should be cropped. (Image courtesy of “The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne)