Andy Warhol Beethoven Portfolio (F & S II.390-393)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title: Beethoven (F & S II.390-393) Year: 1987 Size 40 x 40 ″ 101.6 x 101.6cm each Medium: Portfolio of four screenprints on Lenox Museum Board Edition: Edition of 60, 15 AP, 10 PP, 20 numbered in Roman Numerals, 72 individual TP not in portfolios, numbered in pencil on verso by the executor of the Estate of Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol Beethoven Portfolio (F & S II.390-393)Meaning & History
In his Beethoven portfolio, Warhol gave one of the most celebrated composers in history a Pop makeover. The chaotic and expressive nature of the artist's colour and form in the screenprints mirror the musical cacophonies of the musician himself.
Beethoven is a portfolio of four screenprints published in 1987 of the celebrated German composer. Each example in the suite is an intensely saturated portrait of Beethoven originally by Joseph Karl Stieler, with musical notes superimposed across the print. The chaotic and expressive nature of Warhol’s interaction between colour and form mirror the musical cacophonies of the musician himself.
Whilst earlier in his career Warhol painted portraits of socialites and stars, the eighties marked a period in which Warhol grappled with portraying some of the most famous his historical figures across the arts such as Goethe (1982) and Alexander the Great (1982). Arguably what unites these figures is their cultural transcendence and breaking of boundaries. In what could be seen as blasphemy, Warhol stylises Beethoven with pastel pink hair and fuchsia skin .392, giving a Modern legacy: one that is just as appropriate as it would be for a rockstar rather than an eighteenth Century composer.
Distinctive and rare, these historical portraits challenge the notion that Warhol’s most famous preoccupations of Soup Cans, Brillo boxes and Marilyns were his only ones. Instead, Warhol resorted to the whole canon and annals of history to look for what influenced the psyche of Modern society.
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