About this artwork
After he was shot and critically injured in 1968, Warhol became even more obsessed with the theme of death than he had been previously. The skull, a traditional symbol of mortality, is repeated six times, with the impenetrable darkness of the hollow eye sockets echoed in each image. The shadow cast by the skull resembles a baby’s profile, although whether this was intentional is unknown as Warhol did not take the photograph that the screenprint is based on. It seems unlikely, however, that this effective combination of both life and death would escape Warhol’s sharp gaze. In contrast to the sinister subject, the colours are vibrant. Perhaps Warhol is attempting to acknowledge that death is not something to be feared but instead, should be accepted as part of life.
- title: Skulls
- accession number: AR00609
- artist: Andy WarholAmerican (1928 - 1987)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Painting
- date created: 1976
- measurements: Six parts, each: 38.30 x 48.30 x 1.80 cm
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2016.
Andy Warhol was born 'Andrew Warhola' to Slovakian immigrant parents living in Pittsburgh in America. Warhol's subject matter was taken from popular culture, in the form of advertising, comics, magazines and packaging. He was able to produce his works quickly by transferring images onto canvas or paper through photography and screenprinting, sometimes with the help of assistants. Warhol stated that he wanted to make works that showed no trace of having been produced by hand. His interest in mass production reflected the fast-developing consumer culture he recognised in America. His New York studio, 'The Factory,' became a popular meeting place for artists, drop-outs, celebrities and bands.