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Mao
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Mao
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Mao

US
NY, US
US

Über das Objekt

[Warhol] has given us an image of Mao with such brutal force that, however we formulated our mental picture of the Chinese leader a moment ago, he has supplanted it with his own.\n (Douglas Crimp, New York Letter, Art International, vol. 17, no. 2, February, 1973, p. 46)\nEvincing the same commanding presence and indelibly charged graphic force of the state portrait which inspired it, Andy Warhols extraordinary 1972 masterwork Mao is among the most historically potent, culturally significant, and incomparably iconic paintings of the Twentieth Century. Fixing the viewer with a gaze both utterly penetrating and entirely opaque, Warhols universally recognizable portrait of Chairman Mao commands our full attention with a provocative bravura that rivals that of the artists quintessential Pop images of Campbells Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe. With vivid scarlet lips, illuminated by a radiant golden glow against a richly saturated backdrop of variegated blues and teals, the present work is a singularly vibrant example from the artists acutely limited number of large-scale Mao paintings; although Warhol executed an ambitious 199 Mao paintings in 5 set scales across 5 individual series between 1972 and 1973, this painting belongs to the very first group of only 11 paintings, executed between March and May 1972 and each measuring an imposing 82 inches in height. Of the other 10 paintings in this rarefied corpus, half are known to reside in some of the most prestigious public and private collections worldwide, including the Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humelbæk; the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, among others. Uniting infamy with celebrity, reducing the politically germane to the glossy levity of fashion, and marrying the communist multitude with the capitalist market, Mao exemplifies the provocative bravura and incisive social commentary of Warhol at his most brilliant.\nConceived at the time of President Nixons historic trip to China in February of 1972 and executed only weeks after his return, the present work, and its inaugural counterparts, announced Warhols return to painting with tremendous force and conceptual brilliance. Following Warhol's premature declaration of his retirement from painting, boldly announced at an exhibition of the Flowers in Paris, the mid-to-late 1960s had seen his artistic focus shift towards filmmaking, music, performance and other entrepreneurial projects; indeed, it was not until the early 1970s that Warhol began contemplating the topic of his painterly reprise. Recalling the genesis of the Mao paintings in a conversation between the artist and his gallerist in 1972, Bob Colacello reflects: It began with an idea from Bruno Bischofberger, who had been pushing Andy to go back to painting Brunos idea was that Andy should paint the most important figure of the Twentieth Century. Albert Einstein was suggested for the impact of his Theory of Relativity in both precipitating technological richness and technological terror, to which Warhol wryly replied, Thats a good idea. But I was just reading in Life magazine that the most famous person in the world today is Chairman Mao. Shouldnt it be the most famous person, Bruno (the artist cited in Bob Colacello, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Up Close, New York, 1990, p. 111) Remarkably, Warhol executed the initial Mao portraits without the aid of either a studio assistant or external printing service, instead confronting the technical challenge of wielding a single screen spanning in excess of 6 feet completely alone. Despite the extraordinary scale of the Maos, Warhol covers the immersive canvas of the present work with brilliantly chromatic pigment, enhancing the extraordinarily precise screen with virtuosic dashes of electrifying color. In its arresting juxtaposition of expressionistic brushwork with the machine register of screen print methodology, the present work is a remarkable example of Warhols precise balance between exacting control and free-flowing gesture; evincing a screen of unparalleled clarity, most notable in the precise delineation of the Chairmans crisp ivory collar and subtly modulated facial features, Mao stands as an irrefutable testament to Warhols remarkable technical abilities as a painter. Amongst the other members of the original Mao cycle, the present work heralded the dawn of a new stylistic impetus, setting the precedent for Warhol's application of a markedly expressionistic hand in the paintings that would follow.\nWarhols subsumption and subsequent re-appropriation of communist symbolism into his legendary Pop vernacular both metaphorical, as in Mao, and physical, as in his later totemic renderings of the Soviet Hammer and Sickle profoundly refocused the artists ground-breaking aesthetic energies on the political realities of his time. Emphatically testifying to Warhols finely tuned ability to articulate the central sociopolitical and cultural tensions of his day, the Mao paintings' arrival in 1972 evinced a cutting retort to contemporary American foreign policy: in rapid response to the highly orchestrated media frenzy that was Richard Nixons visit to China in 1972, Warhols series of paintings subversively turned Chinas communist leader into capitalist commodity. Famously critical of Nixon, who prior to his conciliatory efforts towards China was known as an anti-communist red-baiter, Warhol appositely took on the most prescient political dialogue on the global arena. Although he had broached the American political arena a decade earlier with his Electric Chair and Race Riots, both initiated in 1963, it was not until July 1971, during a televised announcement of Nixons sanctioned visit to China, that Warhol began to contemplate the contentious international concerns at the forefront of the global political consciousness and headlining the Western media. Following Nixons trip in February 1972, Warhol was quick off the mark, initiating work on the initial Maos, including the present work, the next month. Remarking upon the controversial nature of Warhols mockery of Nixons grandiose political posturing and simultaneous validation of Mao as celebrity icon, Colacello reflects: Andy wasnt apolitical; he was ruthless. Mao was a brilliant choice, and Andys timing was perfect. The Mao paintings, when they were exhibited a year later in New York, Zurich, and Paris, were greeted with universal acclaim. They were controversial, commercial, and important, just like the man they portrayed and the man who painted them. And they were all about power: the power of one man over the lives of one billion people. (Ibid.)\nDerived from the Peoples Republic of Chinas official state portrait of Chairman Mao, undoubtedly one of the most iconic images of the Twentieth Century, Mao enacts a captivating conflict between the propagandistic fervor of communist China and the quintessentially American production of Warhols celebrated Pop oeuvre. The juxtaposition of this mythic, deified image of the revered Chinese leader with an art form that fetishized consumerist objects is irresistibly seditious, eloquently transforming the distinguished portrait into an ironic Warholian emblem par excellence. Fascinated by the ubiquitous proliferation of this single image, Warhol would undoubtedly have picked up on affinities between the mass-media derivation and seriality of his own work, and the propagandist role of Maos official portrait; remarking upon the pervasiveness of Maos portrait, Warhol once remarked, "I've been reading so much about China. They're so nutty. They don't believe in creativity. The only picture they have is Mao Zedong. It's great. It looks like a silkscreen." (the artist cited in David Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, p. 317) To the artist, Maos image demonstrated all the characteristics of a brand; a readymade icon that consecrated the cult of personality, and its attendant consumer value, endemic to his own capitalist culture.  A truly magnificent work from Warhols most politically potent and universally iconic series, Mao is a profound and enduring testament to Warhols legacy, not only as the singular figurehead of American Pop, but as the consummate history painter of the modern age.\nSigned on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Acrylic, silkscreen ink and pencil on canvas

creator

Warhol, Andy

dimensions

82 by 60 in. 208.3 by 152.4 cm.

exhibition

Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Zehn Bildnisse von Mao Tse-Tung, October - November 1972, n.p., no. 4, illustrated in color Turin, Galleria Galatea, Andy Warhol, November 1972 - February 1973, n.p., no. 4, illustrated in color Paris, Musée Galliera, Andy Warhol: Mao, February - March 1974

literature

Rainer Crone, Das Bildnerische Werk Andy Warhols, Berlin, 1976, cat. no. 186 Sally King-Nero and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1970-1974, Vol. 03, New York, 2010, p. 186, no. 2280, illustrated in color and p. 192 (text)

provenance

Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin Private Collection, Turin (acquired by the present owner from the above in 1972) Acquired by the present owner from the above

signedDate

Signed on the reverse

artist_range_end

1987

artist_range_start

1928

consignmentDesignation

Property from a Private European Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1928 - 1987


*Beachten Sie, dass der Preis nicht auf den aktuellen Wert umgerechnet wird, sondern sich auf den tatsächlichen Endpreis zum Zeitpunkt des Verkaufs des Objekts bezieht.

*Beachten Sie, dass der Preis nicht auf den aktuellen Wert umgerechnet wird, sondern sich auf den tatsächlichen Endpreis zum Zeitpunkt des Verkaufs des Objekts bezieht.


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