Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA in 1928. Died in New York, USA in 1987
In 1983, Andy Warhol accepted a commission by New York gallerists Ronald and Frayda Feldman to create a series spotlighting endangered animals. Comprising ten silkscreen prints, Warhol ennobles each species through the glamorous portraiture he famously produced for celebrities and distinguished clients. Employing vivid, even startling colours, Warhol transforms each of his subjects – including the normally grey Pine Barrens tree frog – into bright and memorable renditions that he privately referred to as “animals with make-up,” thereby ensuring widespread attention and assistance. The ten portraits feature endangered animals from around the world: African elephant, Siberian tiger, bighorn ram, San Francisco silverspot butterfly, black rhinoceros, orangutan, Pine Barrens tree frog, Grevy’s zebra, giant panda, and bald eagle. Habitat loss, hunting, mining, pesticides, and – especially – urban development contributed to the species’ declining populations. While it is fortunate that, in the years since Warhol’s series appeared, the bighorn ram and the bald eagle have increased in number thanks to public awareness and conservationists’ efforts, the continued threat to the other eight species reminds us that there are steps we must yet take to secure their and our futures.