Andy Warhol: Portraits
Some of Andy Warhol’s most famed works are the portraits he completed from the 1960s up until his death in 1987. Featuring cultural icons like Marilyn Monroe and Muhammed Ali, Warhol captured some of the most defining images of the century.
His portraits include both celebrities (Mick Jagger, Ingrid Bergman, Jackie Kennedy) and political figures (Mao, Lenin, the Reigning Queens), creating an interesting intersection between the two. He was also able to highlight how the country was beginning to grow and identify as consumers. Not only of products, but of media and celebrity.
Warhol had a fascination with fame and the culture that surrounded it. Using repetition, he furthered the icon status of many celebrities’ faces. Using tabloid shots and stills from film, he turned out a massive output of pieces with the most relevant people of the time. His first portrait was Marilyn Monroe, immediately following her death in 1962. The celebrity portraits that followed included Mick Jagger, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Jackie Kennedy.
“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” – Andy Warhol
Throughout the mid-sixties, Warhol began taking any and all commissions. His dedication to the portrait during this time propelled it as an acknowledged art form. The money he made off commissions also allowed him to fund other projects and keep The Factory alive. Warhol compared himself to a machine, commercializing people’s desire for attention and celebrity.
Warhol turned his attention to political figures in the early 70s. After reading Life Magazine declare Mao as the most famous person in the world, he began his iconic series featuring the communist leader. The Mao series paralleled the similarity between political propaganda and capitalist advertising with bright colors and striking visuals. Warhol continued his work intersecting fame and politics up into his death with the completion of the Lenin paintings in 1987.
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