This group of works shows Warhol exploring and parodying contemporary theories of art as he continues to develop his own style. In Close Cover Before Striking, for instance, what looks at first glance like an abstract painting is in fact a copy of the cover of a book of matches. As an image of an everyday consumer item it is a classic example of American Pop art. However, its scale and strong bands of colour are a deliberate parody of the abstract art of an older generation of New York artists, in particular the paintings of Barnett Newman.

In another deliberately provocative act, Warhol made works that mimicked painting by numbers kits, presenting the act of creation as a purely mechanical process, devoid of spontaneity. Despite this, the scale and vivid hues of such works add up to a powerful visual experience. The idea that anybody could make a painting, and that it could exist in multiple reproductions was to become a key theme of Warhol’s art.