In 1963, while Warhol was working on his Death and Disaster paintings, Art News published an interview with him by Gene Swenson:
G.S. When did you start with the “Death” pictures?
A.W. I guess it was the big plane crash picture, the front page of the newspaper: 129 Die. I was also painting the Marilyns. I realized that everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like “4 million are going to die.” That started it. But when you see a gruesome picture over and over again, it really doesn’t have any effect.Interview reprinted in Andy Warhol: Death and Disasters, The Menil Collection, p. 19.
Warhol’s art [Death and Disasters] will convey the range, power and empathy underlying his transformation of these commonplace catastrophes. Finally, one can sense in this art an underlying human compassion that transcends Warhol’s public affect of studied neutrality.Walter Hopps, foreword to Andy Warhol: Death and Disaster, p. 9.
Warhol’s repetitions of car crashes, suicides and electric chairs are not like the repetition of similar and yet different terrible scenes day in and day out in the tabloids. These paintings mute what is present in the single front page each day, and emphasize what is present persistently day after day in slightly different variations. Looking at the papers, we do not consciously make the connection between today’s, yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s “repetitions” which are not repetitions.Gene Swenson, art critic, “What is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters, Part I,” Art News 62 (November 1963): 24-27, pp. 60-63.