Andy Warhol Joseph Beuys in Memoriam (F & S II.371)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title Joseph Beuys in Memoriam (F & S II.371) Year 1986 Size 32″ x 24″ 81,3 x 61 cm Medium Screenprint on Arches 88 Paper Edition Edition of 90, 20 AP, 5 PP, 5 HC, 30 numbered in Roman numerals, signed and numbered in pencil lower left. There are 26 TP signed in pencil and unnumbered.
Andy Warhol Joseph Beuys in Memoriam (F & S II.371)Meaning & History
"The two artists could not be outwardly different: Warhol, a master of the silkscreen and the ultimate Capitalist, Beuys, the conceptual artist and activist. Yet, surprisingly in being so different the two artists found a mutual respect in being artistic giants of their respective countries."
Joseph Beuys in Memoriam is a screenprint produced in 1986 to honour the German conceptual artist, Joseph Beuys, who had died in the same year. Warhol had first executed a portfolio of portraits of Beuys in 1980 as well as a screenprint in three states in 1980-3. This work is unusual for its overlay of camouflage on the portrait, which would appear in Warhol’s latest portfolio just before his own passing.
Beuys appears in the same portrait image as he did in Warhol’s previous 1980 portfolio, in a bowler hat with an austere expression. The militaristic camouflage that takes up the entirety of the image, including over Beuys, creates a foreboding impression that is in line with the memoriam tribute. Notably, Warhol used the same pattern for his very own self-portrait, Camouflage Self-Portrait (1986), when he would pass away a year later. The purpose of camouflage, to conceal one in a hazardous environment, seems to be opposed to portraiture, which serves the purpose of revealing the sitter – an irony Warhol plays upon. On an artistic level, the camouflage also points to the artist’s increasing interest in Abstract Expressionism at the time. As Thomas Kellein framed Warhol’s camouflage motif: ‘Warhol expanded the vegetable like effect of leaf-shaped sprigs and and islands, first onto square, then onto rectangular formats, until the ‘all-over’ ideal of Abstract Expressionists had brought back to its familiar origin: the water lily paintings of Claude Monet.’
Warhol’s tribute to Joseph Beuys is one that is distinguished by a personal and heartfelt undertone. Though the artist often painted public figures in the aftermath of their death (Marilyn Monroe, Mao Zedong), he had been personally acquainted with Joseph Beuys. Rather than acting on commission as he often did, it was Warhol who asked to take a Polaroid of him. The two artists could not be outwardly different: Warhol, a master of the silkscreen and the ultimate Capitalist, Beuys, the conceptual artist and activist. Yet, surprisingly in being so different the two artists found a mutual respect in being artistic giants of their respective countries.
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