Guests attending the Grand Rapids Art Museum's annual member meeting were in for a surprise ending: At the conclusion of the formal business meeting, guests were escorted to the first-floor Secchia Lobby area to witness the unveiling of an iconic print from one of America's most noted artists. The print is a recent donation to the GRAM from an anonymous benefactor.
Andy Warhol's screenprint Marilyn was recently given to the GRAM's permanent collection and will now be on display at the museum.
"This work of art is a significant acquisition for the GRAM and a beautiful example of individual philanthropy supporting the arts," said GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen.
Warhol created this screen-print of Marilyn Monroe in 1967. It was the first time he created a print suite of variations on a single image—in this case, 10 versions in radically different color combinations. This version, with the actress against a hot pink ground, is one of the artist's most famous images. Over time, it has come to represent the celebrity of both its subject and its maker, in the process becoming one of the most iconic art portraits of the 20th century.
Andy Warhol's love of the silver screen started early; at age 10, he wrote a fan letter to child star Shirley Temple, who sent him an autographed photo in return. Warhol's infatuation with movie actresses reached its zenith in the 1960s, when he created indelible portraits of Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. The death of Monroe at age 36, in 1962, resounded around the world in outpourings of shock, grief and speculation. Immediately following her death, Warhol acquired a publicity photograph of the actress, which he cropped to a close-up of her face and had transferred to a silkscreen, a common commercial process that enabled an image to be reproduced again and again. Warhol used the screen to create numerous portraits of the actress on canvas, from single images to multiple rows. He colored some of the paintings by screening Monroe's face, lips, eyes, hair and the background in different shades.
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Photo courtesy of © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.