|Orange Prince (1984)|
Silkscreen portrait of musician Prince on canvas, by Andy Warhol
|Catalogue||Catalogued in Andy Warhol Foundation records: PA.50.541 (verso); stamped with Estate of Andy Warhol and Andy Warhol Foundation Stamps|
|Medium||Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas|
|Dimensions||50.8 cm × 40.64 cm (20 in × 16 in)|
|Owner||Private British collector|
Orange Prince (1984) is considered an important late work referencing Warhol's portraits from the early 1960s, of movie stars and celebrity icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. Art historian and Warhol expert Thomas E. Crow believes that Warhol's portrait of Prince shows much greater freedom of expression, as in the early portraits. This is especially evident when compared to Warhol's more 'factory-line' style of portraits from the 1970s onwards, which were mainly commissions.
Prince did not commission the Warhol portraits, which stayed in Warhol's private collection until he died. Crow believes Warhol was fascinated by Prince, who was not in Warhol's direct circle. He says that Warhol was drawn to Prince's edgy image, which acted as inspiration for the art work:
"(Warhol's) evident fascination with Prince, known for sexual frankness in his music and an androgynous style in his clothes, make-up, and hairstyle, echoed similar traits among those he famously gathered around himself in the Factory entourage of the 1960s."
Orange Prince uses a photograph as its source image, which depicts Prince in the burgeoning stages of his career in 1981, three years before the painting was created. The original color photograph shows Prince in a full length pose, from which Warhol isolated the head only for the portrait.
The composition of Orange Prince makes direct reference to the portraits Warhol produced in the 1960s, as Crow points out in his 2018 analysis of the painting, and is similar in composition to Warhol's Marilyn series where the subject's head 'floats' in day-glo color.
According to Crow, the composition is distinct from other late portraits, the majority of which were commissions and followed a commercial formula, such as Warhol's portrait of Michael Jackson which was commissioned and created a few months before Orange Prince. As Crow says:
"Warhol's 1984 portrait (of Prince) ... harked back to the independently conceived celebrity likenesses of his earlier career (from the 1960s). As Prince had not commissioned any of the paintings, Warhol could experiment with far more variations in background patterns and colors."
The face of the subject is depicted in a neon orange color, the same as the background. The facial outline, features and hair are in black. Highlights of green and blue are woven onto the screen amongst the black line around the subject's facial features, hair and ears. The overall effect is to make the subject luminesce, with a trade-mark Warhol flatness to the image, due partly to the very little graduation of shading.
Prince and Andy Warhol
Prince and Andy Warhol were personally acquainted, as Warhol's diary entries show.
Warhol attended a number of Prince concerts in the 1980s, including one of the very earliest in New York. On December 9, 1980, Prince played The Ritz in New York as part of his Dirty Mind Tour. The club was only half-full, but as music critic Nik Cohn reported, "Andy Warhol and his claque showed up, and so did a number of music-biz faces. Before the show, they lounged in poses of practised cool. Then Prince appeared, and cool went up in flames".
In the December 1981 edition of Warhol's Interview magazine Prince appears in a controversial image showing him in the shower, and a crucifix on the wall behind.
In Fall 1984, Warhol created Orange Prince. Prince had released the Purple Rain album and movie that year and was well known internationally.
On August 2, 1986, Warhol was in the front row at Prince's concert at Madison Square Garden. In his diary entry of their meeting, Warhol described sitting down at the concert "...just as Prince jumps out naked, or almost, and it's the greatest concert I've ever seen there, just so much energy and excitement."
Afterwards at the New York dance club, The Palladium, Warhol reported that he was very excited to be invited to an after-party hosted by Prince, and fascinated by him. Warhol described arriving at the party and seeing Prince appear in the near-empty club "...in a white coat and pink bellbottoms, like a Puerto Rican at a prom, all by himself". He also stated Prince was a gracious host who remembered the names of the many individuals in Warhol's entourage that night, and how Prince made sure he danced with everyone.
The same party was also attended by Billy Idol; seeing Prince and Idol together, Warhol observed that "Hollywood glamour girls" such as Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe had been supplanted by "glamour boys" such as Prince and Idol—a development that Warhol found completely fascinating and "...so weird".
That night, Prince agreed to appear on the December 1986 cover of Warhol's Interview magazine, which Warhol described in his diary:
"We asked Prince if he would be our December cover and he said we'd have to talk to his manager and we said that we'd asked the manager and the manager said to ask him, and so they said they'd work it out. We were just shaking, it was so exciting."
Warhol's portrait of Prince was created in 1984, two years before their post-concert meeting in 1986, and remained in Warhol's own collection until he died in 1987.
Orange Prince was created using a complex tracing and silkscreening process, using layers of colors of silkscreen ink on top of a hand-painted orange ground of acrylic polymer paint, applied to canvas. The technique was popularised by Warhol, and is synonymous with the artist from the 1960s onwards, when he produced his early portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, and other Hollywood movie stars and celebrities of the time.
The 1989 MoMA catalogue of Warhol's work, includes a comprehensive description of Warhol's silkscreening technique, provided by the British curator and author Marco Livingstone under the title, "Do It Yourself: Notes on Warhol's Technique."
A pencil tracing was taken from the full sized [transparent] acetate prepared for the photographic screen. Either by transferring the penciled line by pressing onto the front of the acetate or sheet of paper, or by placing a sheet of carbon paper beneath the tracing and then drawing the line one section at a time, a rough guide was established for each color area, for example, the lips and the eyelids. The colors were then brushed on by hand, often with the use of masking tape to create a clean junction between them, with the eventual imposition of the black screened image also serving to obscure any unevenness in the line. The acetates were examined by Warhol before they were made into screens, so that he could indicate by means of instructions, written and drawn with china-marking crayon, any changes to be made: for example, to increase the tonal contrast by removing areas of half-tone, thereby flattening the image. The position of the image would be established by taping the four corners of the acetate to the canvas and then tearing off the tape along the corner edges of the acetate; the fragments of tape remaining on the canvas would serve as a guide in locating the screen on top. The position of the screen would be confirmed by eye, and it would then be printed.
Warhol's orange paintings
A number of important silkscreen works by Andy Warhol use the color orange. Some of the first silkscreen works from the 1960s use orange as the dominant color, and Warhol continued to use orange in his paintings throughout his lifetime. Orange Prince shares a compositional style to Orange Marilyn, 1962. A number of orange paintings by Warhol are in museum collections around the world:
- Shot Orange Marilyn, 1964 (40 in x 40 in).
- Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times, 1963.
- Orange Disaster #5 1963.
- Orange Car Crash (5 Deaths 11 Times in Orange) (Orange Disaster), 1963.
- 5 Deaths on Orange (Orange Disaster), 1963.
- Orange Little Electric Chair, 1964.
- Marilyn Diptych, 1962
- Orange Marilyn, 1962 (20 in x 16 in).
The effect of bright colors in Warhol's work is to draw renewed focus to the subject matter. In the Death and Disaster series of paintings the graphic images Warhol took from tabloid newspaper stories of the time are a stark counterpoint to the candy-color palette. Another example of this is Twelve Electric Chairs from 1964, which consists of twelve highly contrasting colored images of the electric chair, including Orange Little Electric Chair, 1964.
In late 2017, a leading art industry newsletter, Baer Faxt, reported that Warhol's Orange Marilyn sold in a private transaction for $250 million
Prince's favorite color was orange
In 2017 Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, confirmed that Prince's favorite color was orange, and not purple, as assumed. Also that Prince often wore all-orange stage outfits, had orange sets for concerts and his favorite item was his custom-built orange Cloud guitar.
Art historian, Thomas Crow, believes Warhol depicts Prince as a "modern-day icon" in his painting, referencing religious iconographic paintings:
"[Warhol's portrait of Prince] returned Warhol to the origins of his art-critical credibility, that is, the flattened, emblematic, minimally descriptive manner that had characterized his first, definitive phase as an artist."
Marilyn Diptych, 1962, is an early example of iconography in Warhol's work, the image repeated many times to emphasise the ubiquity of celebrity and references a form of religious painting in its title. The Marilyn "Flavors" portraits – thirteen unique paintings of Marilyn Monroe with different color backgrounds – are also amongst the first examples of Warhol's iconographic style, and graphic use of saturated block color, held by art historians to highlight a manufactured celebrity. Art historian Robert Rosenblum was personally close to Warhol and wrote about Warhol's Catholic religious observance, which informed Rosenblum's observation about the 1962 Gold Marilyn in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art:
"When Warhol took a photographic silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe's head, set it on gold paint, and let it float high in a timeless, spaceless heaven ..., he was creating, in effect, a secular saint for the 1960s that might well command as much earthly awe and veneration as, say, a Byzantine Madonna hovering for eternity on a gold mosaic ground."
Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, believes Warhol's preoccupation with celebrity portraits and the style in which he depicts them, stems from the artist's religious upbringing. As a child Warhol attended a local Catholic church which featured an iconostasis, a screen situated in front of the altar featuring large-scale depictions of the faces of the Saints. Art historian Jane Daggett Dillenberger, in her book The Religious Art of Andy Warhol, points out that Warhol's portraits of celebrities have a strong affinity with the sacred icons at the St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church in Pittsburgh:
"Andy's earliest experience of art was of religious art ... for Andy, art and religion were linked."
In his New York Times review of the 1989 Warhol retrospective exhibition at MoMA, art critic Michael Brenson says that Warhol's portraits, at their best, bring together diametrically opposite values, such as sensual excess and the purity of an icon, as seen in the portrait of Prince:
"[Andy Warhol's] flat images, painted in a flat tone, existing in a non-space from which past and future have been banished ... make the present seem absolute and eternal—in other words, transcendent. Part of Warhol's achievement was to legitimize his love of secular, profane subjects by attaching to them traditional religious values. ... Warhol argues that self-effacement and sensual excess, purity and trash, the moment and eternity can exist together."
Orange Prince painting has been reproduced in books, magazines and other media, most notably as the cover of a commemorative magazine published by Condé Nast just after Prince's death in 2016.
The portrait was featured in both the November 1984 and the April 2016 editions of Vanity Fair, reproduced in color on a full page to illustrate the article entitled Purple Fame, about Prince's rise to fame in the wake of his celebrated 1984 album and movie Purple Rain, the inspiration for Warhol's portrait.
The Vanity Fair article claims that Warhol's portrait of Prince captures the recording artist "...at the height of his powers" and is one of the first global pieces written as a critical appreciation of the musician, coinciding with the start of the recording artist's 98-date Purple Rain Tour. Purple Rain is frequently regarded as Prince's magnum opus; declaring that Prince had "...finally arrived", and Warhol's portrait shows Prince as a confident and celebrated musician, now on a world stage and internationally renowned.
The Genius of Prince
Orange Prince (1984) was reproduced on the front cover of The Genius of Prince, a commemorative magazine published in the wake of the musician's sudden death just months before. The magazine was published as a US edition by Condé Nast, in June 2016, to wide acclaim and distributed internationally.
Andy Warhol Treasures
The portrait also features in Andy Warhol Treasures, a book published in 2009 by Geralyn Huxley.
Andy Warhol: Portraits at The Phoenix Art Museum,Arizona.
Warhol Live. A touring exhibition of the artist's work as seen through the lens of music, taken from the collection of the Andy Warhol Museum. It appeared alongside Warhol's unique portraits of musicians, including Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Deborah Harry of Blondie, and Michael Jackson. The exhibition toured North America and Europe.
Andy Warhol's Celebrities, Coskun Fine Art.
Orange Prince (1984) is currently in the UK, part of a private British collection. It was previously part of the Andy Warhol collection, then via his estate to the Andy Warhol Foundation.
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