Artists sometimes create works of art that are meant to be viewed as isolated, individual masterpieces. They also make artwork with Serial Intent. Similar to the way we experience the world in motion and over time, serial artworks encourage viewing one after another. While they stand alone as works of art, individuals within a series also consciously relate to one another. Together they express additional meaning or concepts that are not apparent in any single component.
Consider Andy Warhol’s 1971 print Electric Chair. A lone photographic image of an electric chair, screenprinted in vivid red and yellow with emphatic brushstrokes over the surface, emphasizes the subject matter. The gestural crimson evokes the violent symbolism of this well-used execution tool. However, when presented as one of multiple iterations of the same image, each printed in unique and vibrant color combinations, the subject matter loses its singular poignancy amidst the colorful array. The chair operates as an element in a pattern rather than as a compelling focal point. In Electric Chair and works in which gruesome newspaper photographs are reproduced multiple times, Warhol mimics the proliferation of repetitious imagery by mass media. The serial nature of Electric Chair calls to mind our tendency to become desensitized by the torrent of reproduced images we experience daily.
Serial Intent presents ten of Warhol’s Electric Chair prints as well as groupings from several print, drawing and photography series held in the Akron Art Museum collection. Artists include Robert Indiana, Jacob Lawrence, Sol LeWitt, Michael Loderstedt, Craig Lucas and Karl Blossfeldt, among others. The exhibition offers opportunities to experience these multi-part artworks within the serial contexts intended by the artists who created them.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website