One can barely separate Andy Warhol’s pop art style with the face of Marilyn Monroe. For decades, she has been an icon that has remained alive through the power of art and Warhol’s signature pop art style. What makes the Marilyn Portrait Series stand out from all the other subjects Warhol produces, goes beyond her success as an actress and model.
Time and time again, Warhol printed the same image of Monroe, yet each time he evoked a different mood entirely through color combination and even material variation. While her face stays the same, it is unquestionable that each print holds its own unique tone. From muted grays and browns, to bright pops of pink and yellow, Warhol proves that color is a huge determinant in the feelings a painting will emulate.
The moment that sparked Warhol’s interest in making Monroe an artistic subject matter was her death. Warhol had an infatuation with morbid topics, and found her ever more interesting post death. Regardless of this mindset, every version of this collection has a happiness and vibrancy that carries out the legacy of Monroe.
Warhol’s repetition of Monroe shows that she had become a brand rather than a person. He viewed her as the image of hollywood fame and glamour. She became a household name for Americans, similar to his recurrent depictions of Campbell soup cans- an American classic. Much of Warhol’s career was a result of American pop culture, and his desire to reveal how mass produced a person or subject can become.
Monroe appears to be somewhat distant from the viewer in the prints, holding a seductive gaze. Warhol’s intentions were to create that viewer separation, because although Monroe is recognized by most Americans, few truly knew her for the woman beneath the acting and the fame.