In 1962, shortly after Marilyn Monroe died of a drug overdose, Warhol immortalized the screen icon in his painting Gold Marilyn Monroe. Lawler took this picture of Warhol’s painting when it was auctioned at Christie’s in 1988. In the photo, the painting appears at full scale, with the auction-house label that lists the estimated price clearly legible. Lawler’s work also includes a label of its own that asks, “Does Andy Warhol Make You Cry?” She reminds us that an artwork is an object that is bought and sold and owned, and that who owns it and how it is displayed are part of its meaning.
Gallery label from 2022
Since the early 1980s, Lawler has photographed in galleries, private collections, storage facilities, auction houses, and museums, persistently reminding her audience that a work of art is an object, that it is bought and sold and owned, and that who owns it and how it is displayed are part of its meaning.
A New York auction of art from the collection of Burton and Emily Tremaine in November 1988 included Andy Warhol’s 1962 painting Round Marilyn. Lawler photographed this iconic image (itself derived from a photograph of the screen goddess) at a preview of the sale, and in her finished work the painting, seventeen inches in diameter, appears at full scale, with the auction–house label (including the estimated sale price) clearly legible. Lawler's piece includes a label of its own that directly addresses the viewer, asking, "Does Andy Warhol make you cry?" It's difficult to imagine being moved to tears by a reproduction of a work of art, or even the work of art itself, while being forced to consider it as a commodity. Warhol's own hyper-awareness of that consideration no doubt helps to explain the prominence Lawler's art has granted to his.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 112.