In 1968, famed modern artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) suffered a near-fatal stabbing. This was the impetus While flying back to the Ito his interest in the dead and death itself. While flying back to the United States, Warhol stopped in Paris. In 1975, Warhol purchased a human skull either from a flea market or a taxidermist. He also painted in the memento mori tradition—reminding his audience that we, too, all shall die.
“Remember you must die,” or memento mori, is the artistic expression incorporating the inevitability of death. Although many view this artwork as morbid, the intent is to inspire audiences to live their lives.
The Andy Warhol Museum, https://www.warhol.org/, displays Skulls (1976), large paintings of skulls juxtaposed with pastel colors. In addition, the current exhibition, Andy Warhol: Revelation, highlights the pop artist’s struggles between his Catholic faith and his homosexual lifestyle. Audiences exit the exhibit staring at the religious commercialized advertising of “Repent and Sin No More.” The collection offers insight into his struggles. It closes on February 16, 2020.
Adding to the theme of death are two taxidermed animals on display at the museum. “Cecil” is a 1930 stuffed Great Dane. Warhol purchased the stuffed dog sometime in the 60s for $300. Warhol believed the dog belonged to famed Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille (founding father of modern American cinema). Unfortunately, Warhol was scammed. “Cecil” is encased in glass and majestic, just like the stuffed lion that is perched on a rolling cart inside the Archives. Both were viewable on my trip in November.
Warhol’s “bold palette is at odds with its morbid content.” It exemplifies the modern memento mori artwork being created.