MoMA
Andy Warhol. Gold Marilyn Monroe. 1962
Andy Warhol

Gold Marilyn Monroe

1962
On view
Medium
Silkscreen ink on synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dimensions
6' 11 1/4" x 57" (211.4 x 144.7 cm)
Credit
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
316.1962
Copyright
© 2015 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Warhol made this painting the year screen legend Marilyn Monroe committed suicide. He painted the canvas an iridescent gold and silkscreened the star’s face in the center of the composition. Like other paintings by Warhol that feature Monroe’s likeness, this work is based on a 1953 publicity still for the movie Niagara. By duplicating a photograph known to millions, Warhol undermined the uniqueness and authenticity characteristic of traditional portraiture. Instead he presented Monroe as an infinitely reproducible image.

Gallery label from On to Pop, September 29, 2010-April 25, 2011
Additional text

Warhol made this painting shortly after legendary actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe committed suicide in August 1962. It is one of his first photo-silkscreened canvases and one of his earliest celebrity paintings. He hand-painted the large canvas in gold and then silkscreened Monroe's face, cropped from a publicity still for the film Niagara (1953), at the center. With this updated version of a Byzantine icon, Warhol canonized and eulogized Monroe as a goddess of popular culture. Gold Marilyn Monroe was the star of Warhol's first exhibition of paintings in New York, at the Stable Gallery in November 1962. The show sold out, and Warhol achieved status in the art world, something he had desired for a long time.

Gallery label from Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, April 25–October 18, 2015

Marilyn Monroe was a legend when she committed suicide in August of 1962, but in retrospect her life seems a gradual martyrdom to the media and to her public. After her death, Warhol based many works on the same photograph of her, a publicity still for the 1953 movie Niagara. He would paint the canvas with a single color—turquoise, green, blue, lemon yellow—then silkscreen Monroe's face on top, sometimes alone, sometimes doubled, sometimes multiplied in a grid. As the surround for a face, the golden field in Gold Marilyn Monroe (the only one of Warhol's Marilyns to use this color) recalls the religious icons of Christian art history—a resonance, however, that the work suffuses with a morbid allure.

In reduplicating this photograph of a heroine shared by millions, Warhol denied the sense of the uniqueness of the artist's personality that had been implicit in the gestural painting of the 1950s. He also used a commercial technique— silkscreening—that gives the picture a crisp, artificial look; even as Warhol canonizes Monroe, he reveals her public image as a carefully structured illusion. Redolent of 1950s glamour, the face in Gold Marilyn Monroe is much like the star herself—high gloss, yet transient; bold, yet vulnerable; compelling, yet elusive. Surrounded by a void, it is like the fadeout at the end of a movie.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 241
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Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource