In 1967, Andy Warhol published the first portfolio of his career – a set of ten color screenprints of American sex symbol and film star Marilyn Monroe. The variable color images are based on an appropriated publicity still from Monroe’s 1953 film Niagara, the same cropped photograph Warhol referenced for his many Marilyn paintings in the 1960s. Warhol began producing his iconic Marilyn works shortly after her death in 1962, expressing his fixation on stardom, tragedy, affluence, and popular culture. The portfolio made an icon out of an icon.
Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe series challenges traditional fine art standards of his Abex predecessors by elevating pop culture symbols into the realm of fine art, blurring the line between the two. His obsession with mechanical reproduction and consumer culture led Warhol to use the commercial process of screenprinting to create the signature portfolio. The works also revitalized the practice of portraiture in the mid-20th century. Each Marilyn was printed using five different screens to generate ten identical photographic images with shifting colors and off-register effects. The repetitive imagery in Warhol’s Marilyn series references America’s mass industrial production and the commercialization of celebrity personas.
Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn), 1967, is a portfolio of ten screenprints on paper, 36” x 36” each. The set is an edition of 250, signed in pencil and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso. Some editions are signed in ball-point pen; some editions initialed on verso; some dated. There are also 26 Artist Proofs signed and dated A-Z on verso. This set was the first to be published through Warhol’s New York based print-publishing business, Factory Additions. Printer: Aetna Silkscreen Products, Inc., New York.