A s the world prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk on 20 July 1969, that watershed moment has come into focus as one of the defining moments of the modern era, a symbol of progress, ingenuity and human endeavor. It was an image that captured the world’s imagination. Ever adept at reflecting key points in American culture, Andy Warhol turned his attention to that momentous event almost two decades later. Executed in 1987, Warhol’s Moonwalk prints were among the last works that the artist executed before his untimely death.
The Moonwalk prints were to be part of a portfolio entitled TV that would depict important images from the history of television in America, including I Love Lucy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Moonwalk was the only composition from the series that was printed.
Despite the portfolio’s focus on the influence of television, the photographic basis of the work is not a still from the live broadcast of the first moments on the moon, but rather an image that never appeared on TV. Warhol combined two separate photographs of Buzz Aldrin and the American flag, both NASA stills taken by Neil Armstrong, to create the screenprint. The resulting composition is an iconic element of Warhol’s printmaking that illustrates not only the lasting impact of the moon landing but also the artist’s own profound effect on American visual culture.