Andy Warhol’s Shadows series is on view at the Hirshhorn Museum. The entire series is owned by the Dia Foundation and is rarely on public view in its entirety. The 67 silkscreen paintings are based on a picture of a shadow from Warhol’s office. While Warhol asserts that the same image is repeated 67 times, observation reveals two variations of the shadow images. The paintings are a typical color palate of bright primary and secondary colors. The painting are hung side by side, without space in-between. This long line of repetitive images creates the illusion of one continuous work which appears more like a film reel than a traditional painting. This appeals to Warhol’s self definition as a painter and a film maker.
In the installation there is a quote from Warhol, which clashes with his artwork’s post-mortem monetary value. Warhol says, “The paintings can’t be bought. The Lone Star Foundation is presenting them and they own them” (Painter Hangs Own Paintings, NY, Feb. 1979). Given Warhol’s focus on commodification, I always wonder how he would feel to know that his artworks are blue chip investments and their market value often outpace global financial markets. While it could be argued that Warhol was more interested in fame rather than wealth, it is curious that Warhol secured the purchase of the series to the Lone Star Foundation (now the Dia Foundation). Warhol recongnized that the strength of the series is in the multiplicity of the shadow image. Choosing to secure the series with the Lone Star Foundation is interesting, because Warhol often denied that the Shadow series was art. He often refered to the paintings as ‘disco decor.’ Apart from the Andy Warhol museum in Pennsylvania, one of Warhol’s largest institutional legacies includes objects rejects as actual works of art.
All 67 paintings are on view at the Hirshhorn Museum until January 15th.