This is the third in a three-part series of exhibitions devoted to Andy Warhol’s work organized by Dia at 77 Wooster Street, and the first exhibition in the United States of a series of works Warhol made in 1976 based on the image of a human skull. Warhol worked on the installation—which was intended to include an unrealized wallpaper based on one of the Skulls drawings—in the months before his death in February 1987.
Following his silkscreen portraits of some of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, Warhol’s lesser-known Skulls series revisits the subject of death first examined in his earlier Disaster paintings. The paintings, drawings, and collages on overlaid mylar in the Skulls series are based on a skull the artist purchased from a Parisian flea market. Ronnie Cutrone, then one of the artist’s assistants, took several photographs of the skull, constantly changing the position of the light source to create a range of dramatic shadows. Warhol then captured these optical variations in various scales. The resulting series comprises twelve individual works: two large canvases; four smaller grouped paintings, which are arranged in square or rectangular grids; a group of four collages; and two groups of drawings.
Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928. He died in New York in 1987.