Warhol’s Death and Disaster Series

Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series is an arrangement of artwork with a unique act of discrepancy. This disaster series shows photographs which have one color, are a replication of the same images, or have no color at all. Warhol began this series in 1962. The images he used were mostly from newspapers and magazines. The photographs depict tragedies and disasters as seen in newspapers. In his work, he tried do lull people into accepting these disasters and tragedies as a part of life (Fogle, Bonam, Moos, 2005). In this paper, I will show how his work denotes its diversity in society as a witness to the daily endeavors of dismay and that death is an aspect of life that people have to reckon with.

The most imperative part of Warhol’s work is the selection of the soup can. In this case, he wanted to reveal his view of America, and to him, eating Campbell’s soup represented being American. He wanted to sightsee these images which are part of our daily lives (Andy Warhol Disaster, n.d). In one of his paintings, 32 Coup Cans, there is a lot of repetition which he regularly used to magnify the variation in time.

The cans in the above mentioned work were hard to differentiate. This was intended for people to realize that he had a passion of art in which there was a hidden meaning. To most people, or rather observers, it was worthless. However, he intended to show that in this world where everybody is busy searching for world truths, items which appear of less value like soup cans dictate a lot about society’s beliefs and values (Andy Warhol Disaster.,n.d).

In 1962, after Marilyn Monroe’s death, he started a series of paintings that signified the numerous expressions she had. He chose Monroe as a symbol of the separation between the stylish public life of a star and their public life. In Marilyn Monroe’s Lips, Warhol separated her lips and repeated them on the entire two canvases, one in color and another in black and white, which illustrated the double life of Marilyn Monroe. The idea that arises in this painting is that nothing lies deeper than what you really see on the surface (Walker Art Center, n.d).

Orange Disaster is another of such works by Warhol, and this particular piece replicated the image of an electric chair in five rows. Even though the picture is disturbing, the orange shade attenuates a somber mood (CORAL, n.d). The intention of replicating the image several times was to have the image engraved in the viewer’s mind for a long time. Warhol was addressing capital punishment which at that time was a contentious issue in America.

In Suicide (Fallen Body), Warhol used the picture of the body of Evelyn McHale, who had jumped from 86th floor of the Empire State Building, intended to show how society interacted with celebrities. Additionally, in Tuna Fish Disaster, where two women died from the consumption of tuna fish, Warhol showed the negative effects of consumption during a time when supermarkets made promises to protect consumers from all food sold. His intention was to show that disasters can happen to anyone and at any time (Fogle, Bonam, Moos, 2005).

Though Warhol’s work seems simple and surface-oriented, the outcome is an accurate consideration of a pop culture. It is evident that he used popular imagery from modern culture to censure modern society. His photographs and ideas were open to interpretation by any interested party. It is clear that Andy Warhol opened up numerous doors and minds in the art world, which has had lasting effects on artists today.


ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962 – 1964 Calendar Walker Art Center. (n.d.). Walker Art Center. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2005/andy-warhol-supernova-stars-deaths-and-disast

Andy Warhol Death and Disaster Series | CORAL. (n.d.). CORAL. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://nitrox90.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/andy-warhol-death-and-disaster-series/

Fogle, D., Bonami, F., & Moos, D. (2005). Andy Warhol (1st edition). Minneapolis, Minn.: Walker Art Center.

Suicide Fallen Body. 40 Years of Faulty writing. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://jl10ll.wordpress.com/tag/suicide-fallen-body/

Andy Warhol Disaster. (n.d.). NOVIS GmbH. Retrieved March 17, 2013, from http://novis.de/awstats/4/andy-warhol-disaster