Space Fruit and the Color Wheel

Activities Exploring Color Theory
Andy Warhol, Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Cantaloupes I), 1979, ©AWF

This lesson uses Andy Warhol's series of prints, Space Fruit, to introduce vocabulary for color theory and formal elements in art.




Art, Communication 

Suggested Time Frame:

1 class period 


  • Students investigate and analyze Andy Warhol’s use of color in his print series Space Fruit 
  • Students develop a working knowledge of the Color Wheel
  • Students apply their knowledge of the Color Wheel through writing activities
Andy Warhol, Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Peaches), 1979, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Peaches), 1979, ©AWF

About the Art: 

Throughout his career, Andy Warhol worked with assistants and printers to create numerous print portfolios. In 1977 he met printer Rupert Jasen Smith who worked with him to create the series Space Fruit. These prints demonstrate Warhol’s experimentation with a centuries-old genre in painting—the still life. Still lifes by their very nature are choreographed compositions focusing on shape, color, space and oftentimes symbolism. Warhol was interested in the use of shadows as a compositional element. He first placed one or more pieces of fruit on a white back ground, lit it from an angled position so that shadows were cast onto the white paper, and then photographed these compositions. He also used collage and drawing to create the source imagery for the additional screens used in each print. Each color in these images represents a different silkscreened layer of the print. The printing process allowed Warhol endless color combinations within each composition.

Andy Warhol, Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Pears), 1979, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Pears), 1979, ©AWF

Andy Warhol Quote: 


“When I look at things, I always see the space they occupy. I always want the space to reappear, to make a comeback, because it’s lost space when there’s something in it.”

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again, p 144. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Look carefully at the print Space Fruit: Still Lifes (Cantaloupes I). How did Warhol use photography, collage and drawing in this print?
  2. View all the prints in the Space Fruit series. Are the colors realistic? Are they appealing? Why or why not?
  3. Analyze the compositions in this series. How does Andy Warhol use shadows in the compositions?


  1. Introduce the Color Wheel to students.
  2. Break students into groups of 2-4 and give each group a Color Wheel and Handout 1:Color Terminology Sheet  (a word bank of color terminology could also be written on the board).
  3. Briefly discuss the terminology.
  4. Give each group 2 Handout 2: Cards of Warhol’s Space Fruit series   and a Handout 3: Student Worksheet. Instruct students to work together to answer the questions on the sheet.
  5. When all groups are finished, review the questions as a class.
  6. Ask students to decide:

    -What 3 colors they would use to make a triad still life print

    -What 4 colors they would use to make a tetrad still life print



Use the color and shape printing lesson to create prints.


Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Creative Process
Media and Related Items
Color Theory Powerpoint Presentation
Color Theory Powerpoint Presentation