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Portrait of fame

Posted April. 21, 2022 08:06,   

Updated April. 21, 2022 08:06


It was when former U.S. Richard President Nixon announced he would visit China for the first time as a U.S. president. To Andy Warhol, Nixon’s visit to China was both a huge shock and an inspiration for his work because the former president was a fervent anti-Communist. It might have reminded Warhol of the famous quote by British politician Lord Palmerston, “We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies” in politics.

The image chosen by Warhol was a black-and-white portrait of former Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong from the “Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong.” All the Chinese people were obliged to carry this small, portable book, which was created to spread Mao’s ideas, during the Cultural Revolution.

Between 1972 and 1973, Warhol created 10 screenprints of the Mao portrait series and then reproduced each of them in hundreds of editions. It was also an analogy to the repeated news coverage of Nixon’s visit to China. The portrait of Mao, mass produced and distributed in the U.S., was no longer an image of a daunting and heroic politician, but a casual and fancy icon of pop arts just like Coca-Cola and Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps what Warhol wanted to paint was the fame of a famous figure.