Andy Warhol

129 Die in Jet! (1962)

Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), 1963

It has become routine for us to wake up on a daily basis and to see and read about some gruesome incident, whether overseas or locally we are constantly bombarded with images of death. In 1962 Andy Warhol realised this modern reality, and started to create work which emphasised this, that we can’t run away from death, especially in a world of media where it is constantly on.

In 1962 Warhol created the work Die in a Jet which was a remake of New York Mirror front page which was the story of 129 (later 130) people who died on an Air France plane crash. This work was the beginning of his death and disaster series which mainly consisted of photojournalist images of fatalities, including car accidents, suicides and electric chair images collected from police photo archives and newspapers source material.

One of his works I have been viewing from his series is the piece Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) which was created in 1963 which is an image of a mangled body in a crushed car repeatedly printed on to a canvas by a silk screen process where it becomes more distorted by every print. The canvas has a similar shape to a newspaper the left hand side has the prints, and the right is blank which I would suggest the text of a newspaper report would be, this blank space gives us the freedom to allow us to place our own story upon the image. However I believe it goes beyond this, I believe it emphasis what is present every day in the media, and that that blank space represents the repetitiveness, that the stories will always be the same and it might as well be blank. The process, which is very mechanical, separates the artist and us to the tragedy, the repeating of the print slowly distorts the image which reflects our numbness to such gruesome pictures.

When viewing these works I wasn’t shocked – I realised I am in some ways impervious to the horrors in the images, although I understand it is horrible I feel disaffected by it, separated, and in a way accustomed. The prints’ aesthetic looks sort of like a movie reel and I think that is partially the reason why I feel so unaffected. I am removed from these incidents as we who are so fortunate so often are from the horrors in the news today – to the point where they no longer feel real.    


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