Andy Warhol
andy warhol
Andy Warhol Foundation

Andy Warhol

Signed and dated 'Andy Warhol '64' (on the reverse)
Silkscreen inks on paper
31 x 40in. (approx)

Executed in 1964

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Cagney is a rare and important work from 1964 that depicts the actor James Cagney from the 1931 movie The Public Enemy. Merging the themes of the Hollywood celebrity and America's love affair with the gun and with the gangster into one powerful and iconic image, Cagmey is a particularly striking and memorable image of a major star that relates closely to Warhol's Death and Disaster series and his thirteen portraits of the FBI's most Wanted men.

In total, only five works using this image were made which was unusual for Warhol. One was made in 1962 and the other four in 1964. 62 had been the breakthrough year for Warhol with the Campbell Soup Cans and he began his series of portraits of Hollywood celebrities, - the most famous being those of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Elvis Presley. That the Cagney came about in the same period is interesting when one considers the close correlation between the image of Cagney and his full - length portraits of Elvis. In both paintings Warhol has chosen to depict the highly dramatic moment when the male star is shown brandishing a hand - gun in each of their hands.

Public Enemy was the celebrated gangster film that had first propelled Cagney to fame. Indeed, it had transformed him "overnight" into a major box - office star. Warhol perfectly captures him cornered and defiant and clearly emanating the dynamic inner energy that made him one of the most watchable screen actors of not only his time but of all time. I cannot think of Cagney without seeing this image in my mind's eye.

Cagney forms part of a triumvirate of "macho" portraits (the others being the full length portrait of Elvis and his "Wild One" portrait of Marlon Brando) of male Hollywood stars that stand as a counterpart to his triumvirate of female icons, the marilyns, Liz's and Jackies. Cagney differs though in that it is of someone from an era before Rock'n'Roll and the 1950s invention of the teenager.

Cagney is a mesmeric piece. I'm particularly in awe of the 1962 piece (below). Just take each piece in and see Cagney in various forms of light and shade.

andy warhol cagney 1962
Andy Warhol Foundation

Cagney (Detail)
Andy Warhol (1962)

andy warhol double elvis
Andy Warhol Foundation

Double Elvis (Detail)
Andy Warhol (1963)

andy warhol treasures book

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol - Treasures Book
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