The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Shadows by Andy Warhol

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Shadows (1977–78) by Andy Warhol, a monumental artwork of 102 large format, silkscreened panels that reflect some of Warhol’s explorations with abstraction through his signature palette of bright and cheerful hues, which characterized a large part of his work.

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Shadows by Andy Warhol

At 50 years old, Andy Warhol, the irreverent Pop Art icon, and chronicler of an era, embarked upon the production of a monumental artwork titled Shadows with the assistance of his entourage at the Factory. The work formalized earlier explorations with abstraction, seen the previous year in the Oxidation, Rorschach, and Camouflage paintings.

The canvases, which were primed and coated with acrylic paint prior to the printing of the image, show Warhol’s signature palette of bright hues with cheerful excess. While the color palette used for the grounds of Shadows includes more than a dozen different hues, certain colors that are characteristic of his larger body of work—the translucent violet of Lavender Disaster, 1963, or the aqua green of Turquoise Marilyn, 1964—are present. Unlike the surfaces of earlier paintings, in which thin layers of rolled acrylic paint constituted the backgrounds onto which black pixelated images were silkscreened, the backgrounds of the Shadows canvases were painted with a sponge mop, whose streaks and trails add “gesture” to the picture plane. Seven or eight different screens were used to create Shadows, as evidenced in the slight shifts in scales of dark areas as well as the arbitrary presence of spots of light.

The “shadows” alternate between positive and negative as they march along the walls of the gallery. Despite the apparent embrace of repetition, Warhol’s “machine method” is nothing but handmade. A significant and intriguing fact about Shadows is the irreproducibility of its assumed reproduction, a point that problematizes his aesthetic of “plagiarism” and positions Warhol’s project as one that is primordially pictorial.


An exhibition organized by Dia Art Foundation

February 26–October 2, 2016

Guggenheim Bilbao

Abandoibarra et.2

48001Bilbao. Spain