In 1986, the year that marked the centennial celebration of the famous Statue of Liberty's arrival in the New York harbor, Andy Warhol turned the celebrated Lady Liberty into a majestic Pop icon. Already one of the central images of American culture, Warhol claimed this symbol of freedom and the American Dream as his own goddess of Pop.
Statue of Liberty is painted in Warhol's classic Pop style, using a silkscreen based on a photograph of the monument, cropping her face in a square close-up format, just has he had isolated famous silver screen idols such as Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. The present painting's bright candy colors also evoke the glamor with which he teated these stars. He then superimposed this portrait with a colorful camouflage pattern that had become one of his signatures in the late 1980s. His interest in camouflage was in part linked to his interest in street fashion among the young generation of graffiti-inspired artists such as Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, as well as camouflage's quality of readymade abstraction. Warhol superimposed the same type of colorful camouflage on other familiar images such as Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, and also employed it in an important series of self-portraits that he created the same year he executed the present work.
This large-scale work is part of the original series of only ten paintings of the Statue of Liberty that Warhol created for an exhibition at the Galerie Lavignes-Bastille in Paris. The Statue of Liberty was a fitting subject for Warhol's exhibit in France, as the statue, designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, was created as a gift from France to the United States, in honor of their friendship that dated from the time of the American Revolution. Warhol made humorous reference to this legacy by including in the lower left corner the label for a cookie manufacturer, which reads "Fabis: les bon biscuits" underneath its logo of French and American flags. Long fascinated with the power of brand labels, Warhol amusingly contrasts this commercial logo with the statue that also serves as a kind of logo for the U.S.
Warhol had previously paid homage to the Statue of Liberty in one of his formative Pop silk-screens of 1963, where he repeated the statue twenty-four times. He therefore came full circle in the present work, creating in his mature style a large-scale homage to an image that had powerful and lasting resonance in American popular culture.