acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
91,4 x 71,1 cm (36 x 28 in.)
verso signed and stamped on the overlap of the canvas with the 'Andy Warhol Art Authentication stamp A113.056'
When the actress Marylin Monroe took her own life on 4 August 1962, Warhol began to produce her portrait. For this purpose, he reproduced a publicity photograph of her that had been taken in the course of the 1953 film production Niagara. In its captivating beauty and idealisation, the portrait shows the transformation of a person into an idol. In Warhol's work, the idol becomes an icon by having her portrait printed on a gold background (Gold Marylin Monroe, 1962, Museum of Modern Art, New York).
Warhol was fascinated by the simultaneity of fame and tragedy - a fascination that he also expressed in the portraits of Liz Tayler and Elvis Presely and that had its beginning with Marilyn's portrait. Warhol returned to her portrait again and again, as in his "Reversals" series begun in 1979. In the present work "Four Marilyns (Reversal Series)", the iconic features of the actress Marilyn Monroe are shown in negative. From the now black background, her characteristic facial features emerge in bright white. In this way, the subject undergoes an alienation and forces the disruption of visual habits and the reclassification of what is supposedly familiar.