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Critical Analysis of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe vs. De Kooning's Women


De Kooning Women
- painting process was a struggle. Was heavily influenced by Venus (goddess of fertility) sculpture, which was an idealization of the female body. Willem de Kooning began Women in 1950, but after a year and a half he pulled off the 7 foot painting and threw it away. Luckily however, Meyer Schapiro paid a visit to de Kooning and convinced him to save the painting.
The painting (woman 1) itself is anything but conciliatory to a observer. It is nothing short of shocking. Upon first sight, the viewers eyes are drawn to the geometrical center of the painting, however what lies below the center is indiscernible relative to what lies above the center. The large breasts only command a short attention, for the viewers eyes are almost instantaneously drawn to the woman’s face. Her face is hideously monstrous yet attention grabbing at the same time. The eyes are so large as to be inhuman and almost “bug-like”, while the rest of the face, especially the teeth, is reminiscent of a skeleton, though not necessarily a human skeleton. Is the woman being attacked by the violence of de Koonings brush strokes, or is she the aggressor committing acts of violence.
Is de Kooning commenting on the rapid change of roles of women in the 1950s, where women have more power simply because they are working? De Kooning questions whether this newfound power going to be used for good or for evil.
He confronts massive death toll in WWII & he did abstract art that people didn’t want to buy(dangerous to his personal psyche)
Abstract- takes what painting is about and reduces it to the essence.
Painting is an act of existential lonliness
figurative when most of his fellow Abstract Expressionists were painting abstractly and because of their blatant technique and imagery. The appearance of aggressive brushwork and the use of high-key colors combine to reveal a woman all too congruent with some of modern man's most widely held sexual fears. The toothy snarls, overripe, pendulous breasts, vacuous eyes, and blasted extremities imaged the darkest Freudian insights. Some of these paintings also seemed to hearken back to early Mesopotamian / Akkadian works, with the large, almost "all-seeing" eyes.
Broad brushstrokes of raw paint create a thick texture from which Marilyn's image is suggested, only to collapse again into the chaos that momentarily gives her form.
Warhol -Marilyn Monroe
Warhol led the popart movement, where ordinariness was emphasized instead of uniqueness and individuality. This movement was a response to the mass pop culture that began in the late 1950s and continued well into the 1960s. Mass pop culture, or mass conformity and the desire to be like everyone else was gaining a stronghold position. Depicts Marilyn Monroe in the height of her fame, in a reproduction of a well known and recognizable picture of her. He tried to minimize detail in such a way as to make the images look grainy, with a contrast between black and white – just as mass produced pictures appear in newspaper media. Mass production of course, is a very American way of business, where more is better, and bigger is better. While Monroe has the same form in each picture, she has different colors applied to her hair, her lips, her skin color, eyeshadow, and background. Of those, the most conspicuous are her hair lips and eye shadow colors. While the colors change, the basic expression on Monroe’s face stays constant. Some of the colors make her makeup seem gaudy, and even resembling that of a strumpet. This further emphasizes the commodity aspect of Monroe, not only as a sex symbol, but also in the objectifying of women, since what differentiates Monroe from a Campbell’s soup can? In the events leading up to Marilyn Monroe’s suicide, the media would not leave her alone, trying to disclose her private life to the public. Warhol caplitalizes on this aspect, but instead of depicting her private life, Warhol shows Monroe only as a public image, reduced to a simple mass produced form that the media can market.

As well, the garish ways in which color is applied to the image—the hair becomes a golden halo, the eyes are painted an unnatural turquoise, the lips are a deep red, and the skin is the pink of a painful sunburn—recalls the way corpses are presented for a final viewing: an approximation of what she looked like, resembling the memory we have of her, but unavoidably bereft of life.
Warhol responds to existentialism
Aesthetic of quantity, with insensitivity to everything else.
Warhol was sensitive to the times, instead of being numb. ART REPRESENTS THE TIME IT WAS PAINTED IN.
blurred the line between popular culture and fine art. “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”.
Warhol first used Marilyn's image in 1962 for a silk-screen-on-canvas entitled "The Six Marilyns," or "Marilyn Six-Pack."
He chose a promotional photograph of the actress from the film Niagara, blew up her face to tremendous proportions, and silk-screened the image onto a canvas six times. He manipulated the image slightly by using garish greens and magentas for the eyes and lips and by placing the color slightly off-register.
Marilyn's fame rested on her face, especially her red, luscious lips. During her life, she worked hard to accentuate her lips, using a blend of three shades of lipstick plus a secret mixture of petroleum jelly and wax.
Warhol's painting purposefully distorts her face and lips, emphasizing the artificiality of her image and implying that it was a crass commercialization of that image that led to Marilyn's downfall.


2006 Philosophy Paradise