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Death has always been a part of art history. That's one of the beautiful things about art-- it can detail and document and celebrate every facet of our existence. And so much of the great art that we know and love today works in the capacity to stave off one of the terrible side effects death-- being forgotten. Portraits, stone monuments, ancient coins-- they all aim to ensure that the subjects depicted will be remembered and revered for all eternity.
But Andy Warhol’s take on mortality wasn't about memorializing. He instead focused on the direct causes of death, or the aftermath of a terrible accident. His series, Death and Disaster, is one of the most well-known and polarizing of his career. But Warhol wasn't the first artist to focus on the everyday tragedy of death as a subject to quite this revealing and exploitative extent. No, that honor might very well belong to someone else-- an immigrant photographer working in Manhattan in the 1930s and 1940s.
In this episode, we discover the subject matter and motivations behind Andy Warhol's Death and Disaster series, and relate them to the work of the greatest crime scene photographer in history, Weegee.
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