Warhol based this work on a film still from the 1938 gangster movie Angels with Dirty Faces, starring James Cagney. He cropped the still at the bottom and left, heightening the dramatic and menacing nature of the scene. Cagney is one of Warhol’s first screenprints on paper. The white streaks through the composition are the result of printing irregularities that left blank, uninked areas on the paper. During this early moment in his career, Warhol embraced the imperfect, handmade, and almost painterly quality of such accidents.
Gallery label from Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, April 25–October 18, 2015.