NARRATOR: Andy Warhol’s painting Myths features the gods and heroes of contemporary America in shiny, silver paint. From left to right, you see: Superman, Santa Claus, Howdy Doody, Greta Garbo, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Sam, Aunt Jemima, Dracula, the Wicked Witch, and Warhol himself.
By stacking identical images in vertical columns, Warhol recalls the frames of a film strip. By doing so he suggests that modern-day myths originate in Hollywood, not on Mount Olympus. There is a cutting irony to these Hollywood myths, though. Uncle Sam—the embodiment of the United States itself—appears in between a cartoon character and a racist stereotype, suggesting that the heroes of modern myth are less god-like than their Greek or Roman counterparts.
In some ways, it isn’t surprising that Warhol should include himself here. By the 1980s, when he made this work, Warhol had become of the most influential artists of his time. Exploring his own fascination with fame, he turned himself into a kind of modern-day myth.