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Big Electric Chair

On view

Big Electric Chair

Artist: Andy Warhol (American, 1930 - 1987)

Date: 1967
Medium: Acrylic and silkscreened enamel on canvas
Overall: 54 x 74in. (137.2 x 188cm)
Signed: Potentially signed and dated on canvas overlap
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 86.56
Label Text
In the early 1960s, Andy Warhol created the "Disasters" series--works of art depicting auto and plane crashes, suicides, and poisonings. He was struck by the banality of these horrific events once they were played out in the news media, and said, "When you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn't really have any effect."

At the same time, Warhol began working on a series of images based on the electric chair. Until the 1995 reversal of the death penalty in New York State, the last executions took place in 1963. The image of the electric chair Warhol selected may be stark and menancing, but he defies the emotional impact of his subject matter in the way he represents it. Rather than painting the image expressively--using strong colors and brushwork--Warhol used the impersonal and distancing process of screen-printing to reproduce a photograph. In this way, he emulated the emotionally numbing effects of the news.

Mary E. Murray

© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Licensing by ARS, New York, NY