Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

Solo en Inglès

“Andy's work really goes to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a human being and what our potential is…It's the real deal.” —Jeff Koons

Hear from a range of contemporary artists, curators, and scholars speaking about iconic works on view. Contributors include Jeff Koons, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Kass, Peter Halley, Sasha Wortzel, and Richard Meyer.

Mao, 1972

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Narrator: Warhol based this large-scale painting of Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of Communist China, on the cover image of a collection of his aphorisms known as The Little Red Book. At the time, that painting of Mao was believed to be the most-reproduced image in the world. 

Donna De Salvo: Not only does he play with Mao as this global cultural figure, as a cult figure, but also through the scale of this particular work, really understands something about the power of an image to convey a philosophy, and a point of view without ever even having to use words.

Narrator: Donna De Salvo. 

Donna De Salvo: Now in these series of paintings, you [also] begin to see Warhol become much more expressive in the background colors that he applies to his canvas. He's still using a photo silkscreen, but he begins to create almost painterly gestures that you would probably associate more with conventional notions of painting.

It was a departure from what was conventionally seen as painting, in the original mark, in the gesture. Here it becomes stylized, it becomes almost a sort of add-on to it, or kind of an accessory.

An image of Mao painted with bright colors.

Narrator: Warhol based this large-scale painting of Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of Communist China, on the cover image of a collection of his aphorisms known as The Little Red Book. At the time, that painting of Mao was believed to be the most-reproduced image in the world. 

Donna De Salvo: Not only does he play with Mao as this global cultural figure, as a cult figure, but also through the scale of this particular work, really understands something about the power of an image to convey a philosophy, and a point of view without ever even having to use words.

Narrator: Donna De Salvo. 

Donna De Salvo: Now in these series of paintings, you [also] begin to see Warhol become much more expressive in the background colors that he applies to his canvas. He's still using a photo silkscreen, but he begins to create almost painterly gestures that you would probably associate more with conventional notions of painting.

It was a departure from what was conventionally seen as painting, in the original mark, in the gesture. Here it becomes stylized, it becomes almost a sort of add-on to it, or kind of an accessory.


Andy Warhol, Mao, 1972. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, 14 ft. 8 1⁄2 in. × 11 ft. 4 1 ⁄2 in. (4.48 × 3.47 m). The Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize and Wilson L. Mead funds, 1974.230 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York