Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening


Andy Warhol
1928 - 1987
stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol, Inc., and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and numbered PA55.042 on the overlap
acrylic and silkscreen inks on canvas
71.1 by 81.6cm.
28 by 32 1/8 in.
Executed in 1962.
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The Andy Warhol Foundation of Visual Arts, Inc., New York
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


George Frei and Neil Printz, Eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculpture 1961-63, New York 2002, p. 282, no. 314, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Produced in 1962, Andy Warhol’s Album of a Mat Queen belongs to one of the artist’s most obscure yet important series, the ‘Optical Paintings’. Based on a photograph of the artist and writer Rosalyn Drexler during her brief career as a lady wrestler, here we see the evolution of opticality in Warhol’s early oeuvre. Executed during a period of intense creative ingenuity in between the ‘Elvis’ and ‘Marilyn’ series and the first ‘Death and Disaster’ paintings, Warhol here exaggerates the distinctive off-registration of his silkscreens through a complimentary colour scheme of blue and orange, similar to that of the printed or filmed 3-D imagery that had become popular during the 1950s. The two opposing colours here sing out with striking intensity as two distinct planes – an effect which is only heightened by the partially exposed lower left corner which points to the illusion in progress.


Evidence of Warhol's interest in optical effects had already been suggested in works such as 200 Campbell’s Soup Cans, where he had alternated between sprayed and hand painted areas to create a programmatically flat, painted surface, and in at least one case of his optical paintings, Warhol supplied a pair of 3-D glasses with a painting. In some of the earliest silk-screened paintings of late 1962 also, Warhol introduces another kind of optical device by overlapping the registration of the frames to animate the subject and also the surface of the painting. This flicker of overlapping images is a distinctly cinematic effect and Warhol exploits it fully in the present work and in the ‘Black and White Disaster’ paintings that immediately followed.


Warhol produced his Optical Paintings within two years of Clement Greenberg's influential essay "Modernist Painting," and one could reasonably interpret them as a deft response to the notion of opticality that Greenberg saw as central to the development of modernist painting. In other words, we might see these works as a move by Warhol to debase Greenberg's rarefied discourse of modernism by wryly equating its terms with a more popular counterpart from the world of mass entertainment.

Contemporary Art Evening