Dia presents eight canvases from Andy Warhol’s series Oxidation Paintings (1977–78) at Dia Bridgehampton. In 1977, Warhol began creating abstract compositions using bodily fluids on canvases coated with copper metallic paint. To create the abstract, iridescent works included in this exhibition, Warhol—or sometimes his male assistants or friends—urinated onto the canvases while the paint was still wet. The acid caused the copper to oxidize, resulting in mottled green surfaces. The variations in the colors formed through the oxidation process varied, in part, with the different diets of each “painter.”
For some critics, Warhol’s use of bodily fluids—including urine and semen—as a medium for painting in this series signaled a return to the more radical themes and processes of his earlier work. This followed accusations that the artist had sold out with his commissioned portraits of the rich and famous in the interim years. This turn might also allude to the sexual politics of the 1970s, and, as some historians have argued, to Warhol’s own identity as a gay man, which perhaps led him to take inspiration from the queer sex clubs of the time. Warhol also suggested that the Oxidation Paintings are a “parody” of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, restaging Pollock’s signature approach by laying canvases on the floor and pouring or dripping fluids onto them from above. By replacing Pollock’s house paint with fluids from male bodies Warhol’s Oxidation Paintings wryly subvert Abstract Expressionism’s dominant heteromasculinity.
Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928. He died in New York City in 1987.