Andy Warhol – Playing with Layers.

In this cold, dreary weather, it seems like we could all do with a splash of colour in our routine. Humbly inspired by the recent exhibition of Warhol displayed at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to the photographic re-creation of some of his work, focusing on the manipulation of multiple layers in portraiture.

There’s no Marilyn and there’s no Campbell’s soup tin, because, although now arguably synonymous with Warhol’s name, I left the exhibition assured that there were many more dimensions to Andy’s career, hence the reason why he is considered one of the most influential individuals of the 20th Century.

Above left: ‘Rosie’ (Original photograph by Marie Naffah) Here I have a photograph that has been duplicated and layered each frame on top of one another. I have enhanced the saturation of the original, replicating Warhol’s vivid palette. This acts as the base of the original, whilst, akin to Warhol’s portrait, I have sketched the top layer digitally, suggesting subtle details of the facial features.

Above right: ‘Muhammad Ali’ (Warhol)

With the striking simplicity of the line drawing, combined with the small inclusion of hand- drawn details, a sense of identity is created  for the subject, whilst unanimously creating a piece that successfully draws the viewer in, stimulating emotion. It’s almost reminiscent of the Baroque style, with regards to breaking the boundary between the subject and the observer.

Another aspect that impressed me was Warhol’s expertise in creating something magnificent from something so simple, reiterating layers of the same picturesque cliché in order to produce an alternative perspective on the subject.

Above left: Mickey Mouse Screen Print (Warhol) – Warhol’s prints are defined as screenprints on paper and were intended to be produced in multiple impressions.

Above Right: ‘Tara’ (Original photograph by Marie Naffah) – Here, a monochrome photograph is repeated four times and rendered with the ‘Conte Crayon’ effect in order to imitate the simplified style of the screen print.

Warhol is undoubtedly regarded as an astonishing colourist. I still can’t quite comprehend how he gets away with placing layers of decorative colour on fairly formally composed portraits, and it manages to prove a huge success. The colours chosen are far from naturalistic, yet seem to enhance the overall piece, consequentially adding further expression to the individual.

Above Left: ‘Sarah Bernhardt” (Warhol)

Above Right: ‘Self Portrait’ (Original photograph by Marie Naffah) Similarly to the first image, I have used multiple layers, combining a line drawing and a monochrome photograph. Additionally, I have added three more layers of separate colours, echoing Warhol’s style. For some reason, the image doesn’t appear primitive, yet instead, a portrait full of expression and animation.

I’ve only touched on a few examples of Warhol’s phenomenal use of layers, but the exhibition did solidify my opinion that he was indeed a master manipulator of photographic imagery and had the ability to transform familiar, commercial art into that of “high art”.

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