From the portfolio Ten Works by Ten Painters. In 1963 Warhol began preparing for a large scale exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris. Anxious to avoid a charge of mass-consumerism at his first major exhibition abroad, he chose a theme he initially called Death in America. These paintings, of subjects such as car crashes, suicides, food poisoning, the electric chair, gangster funerals, and the Atom Bomb, were to become known as the Death and Disaster paintings. One of this series was a four-panel acrylic and silkscreen painting, 'Race Riot'
The image source for both the painting and the print is a May 12, 1963 Life Magazine photograph. This photo captured the essence of the Alabama Civil Rights riot, and Warhol used it to create his first limited edition screenprint. Andy Warhol Race Riot was created in collaboration with Norman Ives and Sewell Sillman, two well-known printmakers. For Andy Warhol, creating Birmingham Race Riot was a forerunner to eventually creating hundreds of screenprint editions, something Warhol continued to do right up until his untimely death in 1987.
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