Warhol: Room guide: Room 20: Reversals

Continuing his experiments with painting, Warhol returned to a number of his most famous motifs, reversing the tonal values to resemble a photographic negative. The negative is usually the ‘original’ from which a photograph is printed, so there is a certain paradox in the idea of making ‘copies’ of earlier paintings in this negative form.

The series also reflected Warhol’s increasing fascination with shadow, as the darkest areas in the original images were transformed into the brightest highlights. Other works in the series combined a negative image with diamond dust, which Warhol sprinkled over the canvas as the silkscreen dried. In some, the image is nearly obliterated so that it resembles an abstract painting.