Celebrating Contemporary: Andy Warhol's Gun

  • 28 September 2011

Our Celebrating Contemporary season wraps up with an iconic piece by the most prominent Pop Artist of all

Andy Warhol, Gun, 1981 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2011

Andy Warhol, Gun, 1981

Our Celebrating Contemporary season wraps up with an iconic piece by the most prominent Pop Artist of all.

The work

Gun is one of a series of 232 works by Warhol depicting firearms, which included silkscreens, photographs, drawings and posters. The original intention was to exhibit the pieces in six rooms alongside images of knives and dollar signs.

The gun in the picture, a .22 snub-nosed pistol, is similar to the one which Valerie Solanas used to shoot Warhol in 1968. The incident heightened Warhol's preoccupation with death in his art, resulting in Gun, his portraits of Marilyn Monroe and the 'Death and Disaster' series. Gun was bought for the Tate Collection in 2008 with help from the Art Fund.

The artist

Born Andrew Warhola Jr., Andy Warhol was a leading American artist, central figure in the Pop Art movement, filmmaker, writer and socialite. He began his career as an illustrator after studying commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology's School of Fine Art, creating images for magazines and record labels.

American icons and celebrities are a recurring theme in Warhol's work, from silkscreened prints of Campbell's Soup cans to images of Elvis Presley. He was fascinated by glamour, Hollywood and glitz, and became one of the first artists to consciously embrace commercialism and the market.

Did you know?

Warhol's 1963 work Eight Elvises sold for $100 million in 2009, making him one of only six artists whose work has sold for that amount – only Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-August Renoir, Gustav Klimt and Willem de Koonig have matched the achievement.

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