Andy Warhol Mao (F & S II.9)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title Mao (F & S II.9) Year 1973 Size 36″ x 36″ 91,4 x 91,4 cm MediumScreenprint on Beckett High White Paper Edition Edition of 250
Andy Warhol Mao (F & S II.89)Meaning & History
‘Warhol’s political gift was his ability to make objective as art the defining images of the American consciousness – the images that expressed our desires, our fears, and what we as a commonality trusted and mistrusted’. (Arthur C Danto, ‘Warhol and The Politics of Prints’)
Mao is a xerox print on typewriter created by the artist in 1973. It is Warhol’s first printed portrayal of the Chinese leader and President, Mao Zhedong, a figure that the artist would constantly return to in this period. At the intersection of art and propaganda, Warhol’s interest in Mao is of profound historical and political significance.
The present work is an example of the artist’s experimentation in many methods of printmaking: it is a xerox print of a traced drawing, made in the year Warhol first bought a Xerox machine for his studio. The artist took full advantage of some of the most modern copying methods of his day: Warhol discovered one of the first coin-operated photostat machines at a visual art school in 1969 and took a striking self-portrait with his cheek pressed against the glass (Self-Portrait ‘What’s a Warhol). Even with a contemporary reception, such images and forays into photocopy, appear impossibly modern.
The present print is unassuming in size yet ambitious in its subject. At the time of its production, relations between the U.S and China were very much in the minds of the public. President Nixon had visited China just one year earlier, drawing a close to what had been the complete political isolation of the People’s Republic of China. As ever, Warhol’s iconography touches upon great markers of the twentieth century: ‘Warhol’s political gift was his ability to make objective as art the defining images of the American consciousness – the images that expressed our desires, our fears, and what we as a commonality trusted and mistrusted’. (Arthur C Danto, ‘Warhol and The Politics of Prints’)
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