PA State Standards:
Arts and Humanities:
9.4.8.C Describe how the attributes of the audience’s environment influence aesthetic responses
Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening:
1.2.8.B Use and understand a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material produced.
Compare and analyze how different media offer a unique perspective on the information presented.
Learning Objectives and Cognitive Skills:
Identify and Interpret:
Warhol is reported to have asked his studio assistants, “What can I do that would be abstract but not really abstract?” Camouflage gave him the opportunity to work with both an abstract pattern and an immediately recognizable image, rich in associations. Unlike military motifs, Warhol’s camouflage paintings reflect bright synthetic and inorganic colors, which would not provide a veil or disguise in any landscape. Created by artists at the military’s request, camouflage dates from the early 20th century. It was first used for concealment of equipment, and then for uniforms. As Warhol invented more camouflage works he incorporated the pattern into his self-portraits. In these works, the juxtaposition of identity and disguise mirrors the artist’s lifelong struggle to gain notoriety while keeping his own private life hidden.
Warhol also collaborated with the fashion designer Stephen Sprouse to create a line of camouflage clothing. This apparel brought the association of war into high fashion, although women dressed in camouflage gowns did not blend in, but instead attracted attention in urban settings. Over the past few decades the military has struggled to create an effective urban camouflage uniform, but hasn’t succeeded because the environment is constantly changing. Unfettered by such concerns, the main interest of contemporary urban clothing designers is to make a bold statement.
Having been in the military, this piece reminds me of the impact on our society by the military industrial complex. Much of its influence is camouflaged. It is woven into our national infrastructure as technological improvements, communications and security; while some military influence is readily apparent in the fashions young people wear. This piece reminds me that it is not so much “what you do see” as it is “what you don’t see.” “Can you see me?”
Rev. Thomas E. Smith, Monumental Mission Ministries
To call these paintings decorative would be short-sighted, for in manipulating the size, shape and colors of the traditional military fabric—a fabric designed not to be seen—he demonstrates an almost effortless ability to summon up an entire range of art historical references, from Chinese landscapes to Monet’s Water Lilies . . . Of course pretending he didn’t know anything about art history was one of the many ways in which Warhol camouflaged himself. He told countless interviewers that Walt Disney was his favorite artist, while quietly amassing a collection that including paintings by Corot, Fragonard, Picasso, Fontana and Yves Klein, among others.
Bob Colacello, writer and former Warhol associate
Clip 1: Spring, Vivaldi
Clip 2: War, Edwin Starr
Clip 3: I Feel Love, Donna Summer