Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

Solo en Inglès

“Andy's work really goes to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a human being and what our potential is…It's the real deal.” —Jeff Koons

Hear from a range of contemporary artists, curators, and scholars speaking about iconic works on view. Contributors include Jeff Koons, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Kass, Peter Halley, Sasha Wortzel, and Richard Meyer.

Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963

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Narrator: Ethel Scull was Warhol’s first portrait commission. She had expected that he would make a painting of her in his studio. But when he picked her up from her Fifth Avenue apartment, that’s not how things went. 

Richard Meyer: He puts her in the taxi cab, they go down to Times Square, he took her into an arcade, and he put her in a photo booth machine where you put—at that point it was four for a quarter. 

Narrator: Professor Richard Meyer.

Richard Meyer: So he started feeding quarters into the machine and saying to Ethel Scull, "Don't just sit there! Do something, take your sunglasses off, put your fingers through your hair, smile" and he just started basically directing her.

He kept feeding quarters into it until they had over 100 different images. 

You get the sense that Ethel Scull, in this photo booth machine, becomes an actress, and the character she's embodying is a version—or maybe multiple versions—of herself. And yes, it is herself as a celebrity. And that's, I think, what all those people who commissioned portraits of Warhol in the seventies who weren't famous wanted. They wanted the Warhol brand. It wasn't yet a brand here. Yet, this is what helped it become a brand, but they wanted to look famous through Warhol's style of painting them.

Colorful artwork of woman faces by Andy Warhol.

Narrator: Ethel Scull was Warhol’s first portrait commission. She had expected that he would make a painting of her in his studio. But when he picked her up from her Fifth Avenue apartment, that’s not how things went. 

Richard Meyer: He puts her in the taxi cab, they go down to Times Square, he took her into an arcade, and he put her in a photo booth machine where you put—at that point it was four for a quarter. 

Narrator: Professor Richard Meyer.

Richard Meyer: So he started feeding quarters into the machine and saying to Ethel Scull, "Don't just sit there! Do something, take your sunglasses off, put your fingers through your hair, smile" and he just started basically directing her.

He kept feeding quarters into it until they had over 100 different images. 

You get the sense that Ethel Scull, in this photo booth machine, becomes an actress, and the character she's embodying is a version—or maybe multiple versions—of herself. And yes, it is herself as a celebrity. And that's, I think, what all those people who commissioned portraits of Warhol in the seventies who weren't famous wanted. They wanted the Warhol brand. It wasn't yet a brand here. Yet, this is what helped it become a brand, but they wanted to look famous through Warhol's style of painting them.


Andy Warhol, Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963. Silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen, thirty-six panels: 80 × 144 in. (203.2 × 365.8 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; jointly owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; gift of Ethel Redner Scull 86.61a‒jj. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York