Warhol’s Ads portfolio exemplifies his obsession with the signs and symbols of popular culture in post-war America. Created in 1985, Ads includes ten screenprints of advertisements for Blackglama (Judy Garland), Paramount, Mobil, Life Savers, Chanel, Rebel Without a Cause (James Dean), Van Heusen (Ronald Reagan), The New Spirit (Donald Duck), Volkswagen, and Apple. The portfolio was one of the last series produced before Warhol’s death in 1987, and is one of his most iconic and sought after set of screenprints.
The portfolio was influenced by his early career as a commercial artist in New York City illustrating for advertisements and fashion magazines. Ads appropriated ten 1950s corporate logos American’s encountered daily in the media, like Mobilgas and Paramount. The series transforms common imagery into chic Pop art, just as in Campbell’s Soup and Myths series. The Ads series also touches on Warhol’s obsession with Hollywood stardom by featuring celebrities such as Ronald Reagan, James Dean, Judy Garland and Donald Duck.
The use of the silkscreen to produce the Ads portfolio references the manufacture of advertisements on billboards, in newspapers, and printed on consumer products. This mass production technique comments on how advertisements are circulated and maintain a continuous presence in our lives. Each image in Ads was copied and enhanced with contrasting bold colors, such as pink, red, yellow and blue. These vibrant colors are reminiscent of American media advertisements, commercialism and consumerism – prominent themes seen throughout Warhol’s oeuvre.
Ads, 1985, is a portfolio of ten screenprints on Lenox Museum Board, 38” x 38” each. The set is an edition of 190, 30 AP, 5 PP, 5 EP, 10 HC, 10 numbered in Roman numerals, 1 BAT, 30 TP, signed and numbered in pencil as follows: Rebel Without a Cause (James Dean), Van Heusen (Ronald Reagan), Volkswagen, Apple¬ – lower right; Mobil, Blackglama (Judy Garland), Paramount, Life Savers, Chanel, The New Spirit (Donald Duck) – lower left. The series was published through Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York. Printer: Rupert Jasen Smith, New York.