Andy Warhol
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Andy Warhol Foundation


Mao
Andy Warhol

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Warhol emphasised the hand-painted part of his work with the portrait of Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tung in the early seventies. In particular, he stressed the brush stroke at the cost of the printing technique, by partially integrating oil painting into his silscreen pictures, and played down the mechanical effect. But the subject of this series of portraits was taken from the official photographic print of the almighty party leader, which hung on every Chinese wall. But still the studies differ from one another in colour as well as in composition and in the selection of detail. By means of a lighter colour scheme the head sometimes stands out against the painting's coloured background and the contrast of colours generates a kind of halo.

In the artist's eye this charismatic politician ranks with stars, superstars and megastars - for in the wake of the student revolution of 1968 Mao had become a cult figure. His popularity in the Western world, the passionate enthusiasm he had kindled among certain young demonstrators in America and Europe, and also the commercialization of his portrait as well as The Words of Chairman Mao (the famous Little Red Book, published in print-runs of millions), was reason enough for Warhol to portray the CHinese leader. It was not the historical importance of this figure that stirred Warhol's interest, but his reception in Western capitalist society. Mao had become a socio-psychological symbol of a certain outlook on life...

Text Source & Above:
Andy Warhol Commerce Into Art Hardcover Book (1990) (direct link to book @ amazon.com)

More on this book can be found here.

On a personal note, I just love the Mao series of portraits. Probaly my favourite pieces of his as they are just so striking to look at.




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