Donna De Salvo

Donna De Salvo, Andy Warhol Retrospective (London: Tate, 2001), pp. 50–51.

“For an artist who at the time was identified with his paintings of celebrities, and who had so successfully exploited provocative, referential content, the Shadows must have appeared as an anomaly. The Shadows have been discussed as existential statements, as everything and nothing, as something fleeting, changeable and as intangible as real shadows. They have also been characterized as commentary on the very act of painting. But invariably, they have been positioned, along with the RorscharchsCamouflage and Oxidation paintings, as a late career development... Each of the visual strategies operative in these paintings is the same of those used some seventeen years before. As with the earlier silkscreen paintings, although we at first believe each canvas to be the same—a belief emphasized here by the repeated pattern of the shadow—they are not. Our eye moves instinctively from canvas to canvas searching for additional information.

Difference is created through colour and the bravura brushwork made with a mop and silkscreen. The combinations of colour, and the changing arc of the shadow, conspire to create a mesmerising and hypnotic field. There is a sense of sheer transcendent beauty.

Julian Schnabel, ‘Shadow Paintings’ in exh. cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Shadow Paintings, 1989.

“The way he used the screen as an additional brush is the printed emblem of his behavior. And his decision to select and to act without interpretation, without explanation, was the utter denial of the sentimental. No other painter has come close to this radicality of gesture and self-denial… These paintings hover as the shadow of life’s edge. These paintings are Andy Warhol’s touch, his distance… There is a lot in them, all of the images of Andy’s paintings have passed through the light and shadow of these paintings, bolstering up and heralding in this vision of the existential.”