Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol, 1962, silkscreen painting.
andy warhol’s marilyn diptych is not just a comment on the commercial peddling of image, the impersonal processes involved in mass production or the banality of modern day media culture, i think that it also explores the nature of public grief. if we look at this artwork in the context of the “death and disaster” series (repetitive prints of graphic automobile crashes) or the “tuna fish disaster” (images of tuna fish cans along with images of two american women killed by food poisoning from canned fish, arranged in a grid) or “sixteen jackies,” it seems to me that he was trying to walk the line between private and public disaster, private and public grief. a fatal car accident is much more real to us, much less consumable. yet warhol approaches this disturbing material with the same rules of ruthless media bombardment we expect for celebrity images and sound bites. the celebrity drama that we take for granted and consume daily, is terrifyingly real to those actually involved in it. can’t help but apply this idea to our present wars and occupations – perhaps repetition, meaningless bullet points and information overload have distracted us enough to take emotion and compassion out of the equation? at the end of the day, it’s just consumable news.