Andy Warhol | Endangered Species: Andipa, London

14 September - 2 October 2009

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.” Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol combined activism and aesthetics in his ‘Endangered Species’ series. Commissioned in 1983 by a combination of environmental activists and city gallerists Ronald and Frayda Feldman, Warhol places animals in the same category of importance as his pop culture icons. This exhibition presents the complete collection of ten screen prints, each animal transformed into a psychedelic version of itself. The series ranges from a bright red panda to a ram with fluorescent green horns, all unified by the addition of classically Warholian expressive marks and lines. All the animals featured (an African elephant, bald eagle, bighorn ram, black rhinoceros, giant panda, zebra, orangutan, pine tree frog, butterfly, and Siberian tiger) were listed as endangered in 1973. The viewer's eye cannot help but to be drawn into the dazzling and radiant colours, which in turn draws attention to the plight of the animals. This subject matter of this series varies significantly from his previous series. This is his only series dedicated to animals. Not only is this series important in showing Warhol’s branching out to new genres, but this exhibition is also a testament an often-unseen side of the artist: The Activist. This exhibition is important in lifting the façade of artifice associated with Warhol, revealing him as a visionary using his art as a medium to shed light on the vulnerability of our planet’s creatures, and our collective responsibility to protect them. He understood how his art could be used as a force for good and donated a number of pieces from the series to raise money for ecological charities and awareness. Although the subject matter may be different, the style is the same as Warhol’s most famous oeuvres. He gives these animals the same ‘superstar’ treatment he gave to his screen-prints of his iconic human subjects, such as Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Each animal is given its moment to shine, turned into a symbol of popular culture as important as a Hollywood star, or tin of soup.

In a contemporary age where the threat of continued animal extinction and climate change loom over us, this exhibition is even more relevant to today’s viewers. Warhol’s plea for us to look after our planet is a message that needs to be heard once more by its viewers today.

Discover more Andy Warhol with our selection of Andy Warhol original prints.