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the broad

Most Wanted Men No. 6, Thomas Francis C.

Andy Warhol
1964
silkscreen ink on linen
48 x 78 in. (121.92 x 198.12 cm)
Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles

In 1964 Andy Warhol was commissioned to create a work for the exterior of the New York State pavilion of the New York World’s Fair. Warhol enlarged thirteen mug shots from the New York Police Department’s list of the most-wanted criminals and assembled them into a monumental grid. Just a few days after it was completed, the provocative mural was painted over by order of fair officials. Warhol wanted and anticipated the scandal. He used the screens from the original commission to produce a series of twenty Most Wanted Men paintings. The grim appearance of Thomas Francis C. stands in contrast to Warhol’s celebrity portraits. Warhol raises the profiles of the anonymous, unwillingly photographed men, bringing the public face to face with the criminal element.

Andy Warhol is considered one of the most important figures in postwar art and has had an impact on almost every aspect of the art world. He, along with other pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist, brought the imagery and techniques of mass commercialism into fine arts and broke up the stylistic hegemony of abstract expressionist painting in the 1960s. While Lichtenstein used hand-painted comics to develop a relationship between art and popular culture, Warhol focused on photography, silkscreen printing, and cinema to push his avant-garde imperatives. Alongside his art, Warhol’s persona and individual celebrity led to a contemporary status unlike any other artist. His studio, the Factory, became a flashpoint for 1960s counterculture, and was frequently visited by musicians and artists such as Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and the Beat poets, as well as most of the New York art scene. 
 
Warhol’s silkscreens of the early 1960s are perhaps his best-known works. Drawing on themes such as celebrity, death, and commodity culture, the silkscreens are seen as metaphors for American culture and the fickle nature of fame in a capitalist society. Two Marilyns, 1962, and Twenty Jackies, 1964, exemplify Warhol’s mixture of the techniques of mass reproduction with the older, established painting genres of religious icons or portraiture. Warhol’s Marilyns and Jackies are symbols of their time, bound in their representations. Their relationship to mass reproduction makes these works of central importance to discussions of authorship, originality, and the possible end of art.
 
Warhol also used various programs of abstraction in his painting to mimic and comment on art of his era, especially abstract expressionism, as in Dance Diagram [3] [“The Lindy Tuck-In Turn Man”], 1962, Rorschach, 1984, and Camouflage, 1986, or his famous Shadows, 1978–79, and the Oxidation series. Dance Diagram [3], like the celebrities of the silkscreens, is topical to early 1960s, namely the revival of 1920s and 30s dance steps such as the Charleston and the Lindy Hop. At the same time, however, the work allows a deeper reading of the evolving nature of painting as a performative endeavor or, since the work is displayed on the floor, the changing relationship between painting and sculpture.