#WARHOLWEDNESDAY - ELECTRIC CHAIR
Electric Chair is part of Warhol’s substantial Death and Disaster series which he started in 1962, early examples of which depicted car crashes and suicides as illustrated in newspaper images. With this series Warhol began to explore the effect of reproducing such images repeatedly across a canvas, testing his hypothesis that, as he suggested in 1963, ‘when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it doesn’t really have an effect’.
Warhol began using the image of the electric chair in 1963, the same year as the two final executions in New York State. Over the next decade, he repeatedly returned to the subject, reflecting the political controversy surrounding the death penalty in America in the 1960s. The chair, and its brutal reduction of life to nothingness, is given a typically deadpan presentation by Warhol.
The image of an unoccupied electric chair in an empty execution chamber becomes a poignant metaphor for death. In subsequent iterations of the electric chair image, Warhol experimented with colour and composition. In 1971 he produced a series of ten electric chair screenprints on paper. Here, the images are more tightly focused on the chair itself, such that it occupies a larger proportion of the pictorial space, and each has been printed in a bold colour such as yellow, pink, blue and orange.