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Warhol began making silkscreens of an empty electric chair in 1963, a time when the ethics of capital punishment were being fervently debated in America. Designed to make killing as efficient and impersonal as possible, the electric chair unites Warhol`s fascination with death and with mechanised production. He presents these bleak images in a deadpan manner, without social commentary or moral consolation. The emotional distance is heightened by his audacious use of colour, which is at odds with his morbid subject matter.

February 2002