Andy Warhol: Little Electric Chairs
Venus Over Manhattan, New York, NY May 2nd, 2016
By their repetition in irreverent colors ranging from hot pink to silver, Warhol transforms the once unsettling image of the chair into a visual perversion of the mass media’s exploitation of graphic imagery and the public’s ultimate desensitization to such material. In his essay on the series, Gerard Malanga credited Warhol with saying that “[a]dding pretty colors to a picture as gruesome as this would change people’s perceptions of acceptance.” The artist’s reduction of the so-called “Sing Sing Death Chamber” to an endlessly recurring image subverts the chair’s meaning. Regarded as one of his most important contributions to the Pop Art movement, Warhol’s Electric Chairs reveal the banality that can attenuate even a topic as tragic as capital punishment.
Produced between 1964 and 1965, all of the works in the series are identical in size and subject matter though each silkscreen is unique in its color and ink saturation. Taking place in a smaller, modified space within the gallery, the exhibition at VENUS will pay homage to the inaugural presentation of the works that took place at the Jerrold Morris International Gallery in Toronto in March of 1965.