Birmingham Race Riot

Andy Warhol American

Not on view

Echoing contemporary press coverage, Warhol titled this work a "race riot," though it actually shows police and their dogs attacking nonviolent civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama. The print reverses and enlarges a photograph taken by Charles Moore, published in Life magazine on May 17, 1963; the unmitigated borrowing resulted in a lawsuit. Warhol encouraged emotional distance from his brutal subject by enlarging the image and rendering it slightly out of focus—a technique employed in other violent images of accidents, plane crashes, and nuclear bombs that became known as his "Death and Disaster" works. We are left to wonder if the artist intended to shock, point to the ubiquity of violence in American media, or comment on the numbness viewers developed in response to it.

Birmingham Race Riot, Andy Warhol (American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1928–1987 New York), Screenprint

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