Birmingham Race Riots By Andy Warhol

892 Words 4 Pages
As the Civil Rights movement progressed throughout the 1960s, racial tensions within American communities were in a perpetual state of hostility. Inevitably, commentary on the protests and riots sweep through every possible medium from news articles to high esteemed works of art. Two notable works include Larry River’s Black Revue (1970), and Andy Warhol’s Birmingham Race (1964). Larry River’s composition features three black men from chronological historical events. However, Birmingham Race Riots by Warhol showcases a singular event from 1964. Although focusing on varying figures and timelines, the congruent theme between both works of art highlight the struggle and dehumanization of black communities in the United States leading up to and throughout the Civil Rights movement.
Larry River’s 1970 color screen print, Black Revue, implements a collage like style to portray three prominent black men in history. Exploiting the influential
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Chaos, in the form of white police officers and savage dogs, encloses and targets a central black figure, who is turned away from the photographer. The emotionless police and frantic dogs attacking the defenseless man starkly contrast the faceless and dehumanized silhouettes of the peaceful black protesters. In reformatting the original magazine image, Warhol creates a strain within the medium which parallels contemporary events. For example, enlarging the image constructs a gritty quality distorting the composition, which mirrors the white viewer’s perception of the civil rights movement. Similarly, the heightened contrast between black and white areas of color correlate the racial tension and traditional social acceptance of seeing a black individual and subhuman and not worthy of unique human

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