Birmingham Race Riot

Andy Warhol


Materials: screenprint on paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. M00382).

Warhol’s print edition Birmingham Race Riot appropriates images of the Birmingham Race Riots of 1963 as documented by Charles Moore for a photo-essay in Life magazine. The riots gained notoriety across America, and is considered one of the key events of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. Supporters of Martin Luther King protesting racial segregation were attacked by the police. King himself was arrested. Americans were shocked by images of protesters being attacked by police dogs and water hoses. President John F. Kennedy even said the events they depicted were "so much more eloquently reported by the news camera than by any number of explanatory words". Warhol contributed this print to a portfolio of work by ten artists, published by the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut, the year after the riot. Warhol considered Birmingham Race Riot as part of his wider Death and Disaster series, along with his Car Crash and Electric Chair series. The work today becomes topical once again in light of police killings of African-Americans, and additionally raises questions today around debates on artistic freedom in relation to ‘cultural appropriation’.

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