American (Pittsburgh, Pa., 1928-1987, New York, N.Y.)
"Birmingham Race Riot"
Campbell's soup, Liz, Brillo box, Marilyn, Coca Cola, Mao: Andy Warhol was the fright-wigged
ultimate cool guy, who shocked the art establishment and bewildered the public by
celebrating the vulgar and vibrant consumerism of mid-20th century America. Beginning
as a successful commercial illustrator, Warhol embarked on a career as a fine artist,
and in the process he revolutionized ideas about what art is and how it is made. He
quickly eliminated drawing and painting from his practice and focused on images copied
from mass media publications, which were photographically enlarged and screened onto
canvas or paper. Appropriately, he called his studio The Factory. "Birmingham Race
Riot" is part of Warhol's death and disasters series, which includes news photos of
plane and car crashes, mushroom clouds, executions and street battles. Presented in
the same way as soup cans and celebrity stills, these scenes, however disturbing the
stories behind them, project a similar lack of emotional resonance. Warhol emphasized
the flattening effect of mass media by sometimes multiplying images as wallpaper.
Hundreds of race riots, electric chairs, grieving Jackies or glowing Marilyns create
equally attractive and meaningless patterns.
Return To Previous Page
Hours & Location
Monday – Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm
except between temporary exhibits
and on University holidays.
142 CFA Building
Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: (901) 678-2224
Fax: (901) 678-5118