Warhol’s Endangered Species portfolio of ten animals disseminates global concerns and environmental consciousness boldly before us. Created in 1983, the series includes images of endangered species from around the world: the Siberian Tiger, San Francisco Silverspot Butterfly, Orangutan, Grevy’s Zebra, Black Rhinoceros, Bighorn Ram, African Elephant, Pine Barrens Tree Frog, Giant Panda, and the Bald Eagle.
This portfolio of Pop Art animals from the world’s endangered species list exposes how many species are close to global extinction. Ronald Feldman, political activist and Warhol’s art dealer, commissioned Warhol to produce Endangered Species in efforts to raise environmental awareness. The two shared a consciousness for wildlife preservation and engaged in conversations concerning ecological issues. Warhol was an eccentric animal lover, which served as an incentive for developing this project. The series was created after the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which banned trade involving vulnerable species and made efforts to protect original habitats. Since the Endangered Species production in 1983, the Pine Barrens Tree Frog and the Bald Eagle have been removed from the world’s endangered species list. Many of the original prints were gifted to organizations concerning wildlife conservation.
Endangered Species casts the endangered species in an immortalizing light, transforming the animals into icons like American superstars. Warhol’s signature brilliant colors call attention to the individual importance of each species, just as he uses the Pop-style to emphasize celebrities in popular culture. These stunning bold portrayals led him to fondly dub the works “animals in makeup.” The Bald Eagle screenprint idealizes the magnificence of America’s famous cultural symbol – themes of fame and culture seen throughout Warhol’s oeuvre.
Issues of wildlife conservation and the popularity of environmental art have grown in importance to today. Warhol contributes to this conversation along with artists Ai Weiwei and Ansel Adams, among many others, who have advocated for animal rights and environmental preservation. Although Warhol immortalizes these animals through his beautiful works, in reality the species are on the verge of extinction and will impact our livelihood. David Benrimon Fine Art partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society on our Andy Warhol: Idolized exhibition, Fall 2016, in efforts to promote and support the endangered species.
Endangered Species, 1983, is a portfolio of ten screenprints on Lenox Museum Board, 38” x 38” each. The set is an edition of 150, 30 AP, 5 PP, 5 EP, 3 HC, 10 numbered in Roman numerals, 1 BAT, 30 TP, signed and numbered in pencil as follows: African Elephant, San Francisco Silverspot, Orangutan – lower right; Pine Barrens Tree Frog, Giant Panda, Bald Eagle, Siberian Tiger, Black Rhinoceros – lower left; Grevy’s Zebra, Bighorn Ram – lower center. The series was published through Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York. Printer: Rupert Jasen Smith, New York.