How may the painting “Stringed Instruments” by Andy Warhol be seen to correlate with spiritual systems in which the painting’s color progression plays a central role (e.g., Indian chakras, astrology)? To observe the red (infrared) move into purple (ultraviolet), and finally open up into a black-and-white phase is a reminder that similar colors have been used in representing the ascent of the spirit through the seven heavens.
Warhol’s employment of instruments, particularly stringed instruments, interests me greatly. As a scholar of the history of the guitar and its humanistic implications, I am drawn to the notable absence of any bow in Warhol’s painting. While the subjects appear to be bowed stringed instruments, it must be remembered that prior to the delineation between plucked and bowed stringed instruments, the medieval period saw a single instrument that could be sounded with a plectrum, a bow, or the hand.
Was Warhol’s color scheme just chance? Was he aware of a history of stringed instruments that places them within the context of significant spiritual development? I have not researched the specifics of this piece by Warhol, but I find it could be significant in showing the longevity of cosmologies that hold the precursors of the guitar to be instruments that lead the human spirit toward enlightenment.