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Warhol on criminals

Nowadays if you're a crook you're still considered up-there. You can write books, go on TV, give interviews—you're a big celebrity and nobody even looks down on you because you're a crook. You're still up-there. This is because more than anything people just want stars.1

1 Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), p. 85.

From the pamphlet, The Thirteen Most Wanted, the source of Warhol's image

Frank Bellone

Alias: James Bellone, "Tanky."

Description: Bellone is 44 years old (1957); height, 5'7"; weight, 170 lbs.; brown eyes, black hair. A restaurant worker, he was known to frequent cafeterias in the vicinity of 14th Street, Manhattan. Last known address (1935), 237 East 16th Street, Manhattan. Indicted for murder, August 28, 1935, by the New York County Grand Jury.

Circumstances of Crime: Bellone is sought for the murder of Michael Macagnone of 1013 Willoughby Street, Brooklyn, on July 19, 1935. The victim left a female friend at 415 East 13th Street at 8:30 P.M. and was walking east when he was shot down by two men in a passing sedan who fired a volley of shots at him. He suffered three gunshot wounds and died two hours later in Bellevue Hospital.

Background Information: The victim, 22 years old, refused to give information. He had been in the fruit business and had been shot in 1934. He had one arrest for robbery. On August 27, 1935, Joseph "Piney" Armore, 441 East 16th Street was arrested for acting in concert with Bellone. Amore was sentenced to 2 to 5 years. Bellone is a fugitive wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is also sought for draft evasion.1

1 Commissioner Michael J. Murphy, The Thirteen Most Wanted (New York Police Department, 1962). Issued 1 February 1962.

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  Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B - Private Collection, San Francisco Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B - Private Collection, San Francisco Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B - Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Greenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Greenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Greenberg, and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Blatt Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B - Founding Collection, the Any Warhol Museum Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B - Founding Collection, the Any Warhol Museum Copyright 2006 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Any Warhol, Most Wanted Men No. 12, Frank B (1964) Silkscreen ink on canvas. Roll over images for more information. Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Greenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Greenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Greenberg, and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Blatt Private collection, San Francisco Founding Collection, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Frank Bellone is one of the thirteen criminals represented in Warhol's Most Wanted Men series, based on mug shots published by the New York Police Department in 1962. To translate Bellone's photographs into paintings, Warhol relied on silkscreening. This industrial technique typically reproduces images fairly consistently, but in this group of works it generates a diversity of effects: every panel has a different density of pigment, tonal range, and composition. Ironically, these variations tend to make the mug shots, originally produced for documentary purposes, seem expressionistic. Formally, these large portraits of "Frank B.," who was wanted for murder and draft evasion, are comparable to Warhol's portrayals of well-known personalities like Liz Taylor and Elvis Presley.