Self-Portrait with Skull (1978)
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. Following this, it was ten years before he returned to self-portraiture and when he did, the skull, a traditional symbol of mortality, featured heavily. The inclusion of a skull suggests he was working within the ‘memento mori’ tradition, which aims to remind us that we shall all die. This screenprinted painting is based on one of several photographs of Warhol posing with a skull on his shoulder or head. The blood-red background is broken up by violent, black brush-strokes which enclose the image. Warhol’s penetrative gaze and slightly open mouth are echoed in the skull, heightening the tension.
- title: Self-Portrait with Skull
- accession number: AR00610
- artist: Andy WarholAmerican (1928 - 1987)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Painting
- date created: 1978
- measurements: 40.80 x 33.20 x 2.00 cm (framed: 46.00 x 38.00 x 6.50 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.