A Formal Analysis of Statue of Liberty by Andy Warhol
A Formal Analysis of Statue of Liberty by Andy Warhol Andy Warhol created his painting Statue of Liberty in 1962. The painting’s subject is, obviously, the Statue of Liberty, repeated twelve times in a 4 by 3 matrix. The painting belongs to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; however it is being auctioned on November 14th at Christie’s in New York.
It is rather large at 80 by 61 inches. To be able to see the entirety of the painting, one must stand back several feet. The image that appears twelve times in the painting is the Statue of Liberty facing forward from her legs up.
One can see most of the statue, including the torch, and the horizon behind her. The painting is composed mostly of a cool blue. In addition to the blue, a vibrant red is included, creating a contrast in the painting. Strangely enough, the painting is not centered, but rather aligned to the right, leaving a lot of unused space on the left. The repetition of the statue forms a harmony of sorts, but the individual coloring creates a small separation. The original image of the statue appears that it was not painted, though it contrast between the ocean and the sky makes it seem like the picture might have been altered.
The sky in the background matches the color of the linen. The image shows the statue dead center with the ocean filling two thirds of it and the sky filling the other third. In a majority of the rectangles there is a splotch of darker blue than what is used on the statue that covers the statue’s torch and torch, keeping one from seeing everything completely. Only two of the images include red paint, excluding the images on the far right that are cut off. The grid of the images creates six or seven implied lines.
There is also an implied line from the bottom of the left side of the statue to the tip of the torch. There is a line created along the horizon of the dark ocean and the bland sky. There are contrasted lines within the ocean to show waves or motion using the linen as the background color. The face of the statue varies in visibility between each square. It varies between visible, somewhat visible, and not visible between the images. The appearance changes from square to square. Together, the squares show harmony since the statue is fixed in place. The variation occurs with the splotch on the statue’s face.
It seems to move, or disappear, from the top left to the bottom right square, giving the painting its variation. The splotch that covers Lady Liberty’s face can possibly emphasize the face or the torch she holds. The important matter is possibly the face that she is, or isn’t, covered, though it is in an inconsistent way to induce speculation of the artwork. Symmetry has been used to show uniformity or order. Since the painting is aligned to the right it doesn’t show uniformity in that aspect. The image, on the other hand, is very uniform. The entirety of the painting expresses almost an ordered chaos.
The squares show strange, jagged shapes that are indistinguishable across the painting. Each one of them is much lighter than the color in the square. The shapes are presented as shadows, and from square to square it seems as though they are moving as they would through a film strip. Even though the Statue of Liberty is enormous, it’s seems to be shrunken in this artwork. The shrunken statue is then multiplied by twelve and fluidly placed on the linen canvas. The movement of the blue splotch and the white shadow overlay gives a sort of flow across the piece.
The repetition of the image in the squares could possible represent the variety of ways that America is perceived by people. The variation of color and the distortion of the face/torch by the blue splotch could represent the different experiences of people in the country. The blank area on the left of the piece depicts the abundance of opportunity in America. The repetition of the same picture, on the other hand, could show a generic form of America, but with the variation of color could represent that it could differ with some very small details. The painting is somewhat ambiguous in this way, but is great nonetheless.