Race Riots by Andy Warhol

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Race Riots by Andy Warhol-American Painting

Painting NameRace Riots
Painter NameAndy Warhol
Completion Date1964
Size60 x 66 in. (152.4 x 167.6 cm.)
TechniqueAcrylic, Silkscreen

Andy Warhol, the Pope of Pop Art, made this painting (a part of the series known as Death and Disaster or simply known as Disaster Series) after being inspired by an airplane crash news he read in the New York Mirror of June 4, 1962.  The painting describes a scene from a peaceful march during the Birmingham Campaign of 1963 in which the protesters, led by Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathly, Fred Shuttlesworth and Rosa Parks, were being disrupted by police in the current painting. It is one of the known painting of Andy Warhol and though, not perfectly fitting under series called Death and Disaster, he insisted including Race Riots paintings into the series.

Birmingham Riots, 1963

The Birmingham Riots of 1963 also known as Birmingham Children’s Crusade mainly began after the dozens of bombings in 1963 on various places and also with the agenda of killing Martin Luther King, Jr. The bombings were said to be carried out by Ku Klux Klan. The peaceful rallies were originally began by the African American demanding for the equal human rights and treatment. These riots caused the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Race Riots Analysis

As said above, the painting Race Riots, captures a scene from peaceful march by the protesters during the Birmingham Campaign. The police used firehose and police dogs to disrupt the march. Many photographs of such assaults had been taken and many of them won Pulitzer Prize and one of them is even said to impact heavily on the fate of the race riots.

The original photo used for the painting was taken by Charles Moore on 3rd May 1963, one of the known race riot photographer of the time. It has been represented in Warhol’s famous repetitive style which he has used in many of his other paintings. He puts the same image or painting side by side for numerous times giving each one a different hue, theme or colors or sometimes living every picture similar to each other creating a tiles-like depiction.

In current painting, he has repeated the picture four times, giving each picture a different colors or hue of a color. Many calls the repetition to be creating a numbing effect, yet it emphasizes the subject extravagantly. The original photograph capturing all the elements of the riots finely, the painting emphasize and multiplies the effect of the subject.

High Price

The painting sold for $62,885,000 in an auction held by Christies on 13 May, 2014 and became one of the expensive painting by the artist.

Notable paintings in the Disaster Series include Orange Disaster, Purple Jumping Man and Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster).



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