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Sidewall, Marilyn Monoprint

This is a sidewall. It was manufactured by Flavor Paper. It is dated 2015 and we acquired it in 2015. Its medium is screen printed and hand painted on chrome mylar, polyester diamond dust. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

Gift offer of two wallpapers from Flavor Paper’s second collection with the Warhol Foundation called Glamericana. Based on the iconic Marilyn Monroe paintings by Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monoprint reinterprets these artworks as a screen-printed wallpaper.

Marilyn Monoprint is being presented in two colorways printed on chrome Mylar: diamond dust on hot pink, and black on a multicolor ground. The black colorway is a closer rendition to the paintings created by Warhol, where the black facial silhouette and background accentuates the brightly colored ground and pops it to the foreground. The pink ground with diamond dust has the opposite effect where the different hues of pink frame the facial silhouette and make it the focal point. Two colorways were selected for this pattern as the single variable of color makes such a profound difference to the appearance of the design. Printing designs in multiple colorways has always been an easy and inexpensive way for manufacturer’s to increase product appeal to a greater number of consumers. The collection contains designs printed in multiple colorways dating back to the late eighteenth century, and recently acquired a Leleu-Deshay’s wallpaper in four different colorways.

Marilyn Monoprint is based on the Reversals series of paintings Warhol began making in 1979, where he reused the publicity still of Marilyn Monroe from earlier paintings but reversed the tonal values, so it was like looking at a photographic negative. The canvases were hand painted with seemingly random brush strokes of intense color with the black facial silhouette printed on top. Warhol’s Reversals of Marilyn Monroe could contain from one to as many as forty Marilyns. Each painted background was unique, while the printed facial images were similar but could vary depending on the amount of paint used and pressure applied when printing. Warhol also incorporated a variety of diamond dust, composed of ground glass, into a number of his original artworks beginning in 1980.

Flavor Paper has kept the design stylistically the same but recreated the artwork entirely as a screen print and made it a repeating pattern. Where Warhol hand painted colors on the canvas, Flavor Paper has perfected a similar application of paint directly on the screen. This application requires the coordinated effort of a team to apply the colors quickly with some manner of continuity, and then printing before the pigments dry. The technique requires four to six printers using a variety of brushes, spray bottles, pallet knives and squeegees to apply a mix of opaque, transparent, Day Glo and metallic inks directly on the screen and then printing that screen. This process is replicated for each repeat of the wallpaper, with the Marilyn silhouette then printed over top. Similar to the Warhol paintings, there is continuity between the repeats but each is unique.

The application of the ground colors on the Marilyn Monoprint are a contemporary version of an old technique, having a strong correlation with the irisé or rainbow papers of the early nineteenth century where the background colors were hand painted and blended in a very controlled manner. The irisé technique was developed by the Zuber factory in 1819 and required four workers and a variety of brushes, troughs and pulleys to accomplish. In essence, this involved three long brushes, each the width of the paper: the first was used to apply the different colored pigments to the paper, the second brush was moved in a zigzag motion across the paper to blend the pigments, while the third brush was dragged the length of the paper to smooth out the pigments.

Warhol made his first paintings of Marilyn Monroe following her death in 1962, using a publicity still from the 1953 film Niagara. Many of the Marilyn paintings consisted of facial features screen printed in black on an off-white ground. He also created a more spectacular version of these portraits by hand painting color shapes to correspond with lips, eyes and hair, usually painted over an orange ground, with the facial features then screen printed in black overtop. While these prints could be quite similar, each was a unique work of art. Many of these were printed as multiples creating the appearance of a repeat.

This object was donated by Flavor Paper. It is credited Gift of Flavor Paper.

Its dimensions are

L x W: 457.2 × 74.9 cm (15 ft. × 29 1/2 in.) Repeat H: 87 cm (34 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Sidewall, Marilyn Monoprint; Manufactured by Flavor Paper (United States); screen printed and hand painted on chrome mylar, polyester diamond dust; L x W: 457.2 × 74.9 cm (15 ft. × 29 1/2 in.) Repeat H: 87 cm (34 1/4 in.); Gift of Flavor Paper; 2015-44-3

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Virtue in Vice.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sidewall, Marilyn Monoprint |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>