Based on a series of photographs of shadows that Warhol’s assistant Ronnie Cutrone took in the Factory, the six works that make up Shadows II are ‘screenprints of photographs of shadows of objects’ (J. Watson, ‘Reality and Simulcra in Andy Warhol’s Shadows, Rutgers Art Review: The Journal of Graduate Research in Art History 30, 2014, p. 73). Warhol undertook an extreme and complex process of abstraction as he moved further away from simple subjectivity. The final forms no longer visually reference the objects that cast the initial shadows. The forms have dematerialised and are thus distanced from any referential, human context. Indeed, Warhol himself called the series ‘disco décor’, accentuating the decorative surface of the prints and further discouraging a thematic analysis of the content. Taking the lead from Warhol, therefore, the importance of Shadows II lies in its surface, in the subtle nuance of colour in the diamond dust, in the play of light and dark and matte and sparkle, and in the blown-up, exaggerated scale.
Seemingly distant from his soup cans, the subjectlessness and focus on surface in Shadows II are, in fact, the realisation of Warhol’s eternal search for ‘a purposefully made image of nothing’ (L. Cooke, ‘Andy Warhol: Shadows’ in Robert Lehman Lectures on Contemporary Art, New York, 2004, p. 89). Warhol was principally and consistently preoccupied with surface. Shadows II epitomises the artist’s statement: ‘if you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface of my paintings…there’s nothing behind it’ (Warhol cited in K. Goldsmith, I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews 1962-1987, New York, 2004, p. 85).
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