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.

Before and After [4], 1962

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Narrator: Warhol based this painting on an ad for nose jobs that he found in the back pages of the National Enquirer.  

Deborah Kass: I first discovered Andy in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times when I was around thirteen. In the sixties. I saw his painting Before and After and it totally blew my mind.

Narrator: Artist Deborah Kass. 

Deborah Kass: I knew I wanted to be an artist and that was the art section. But this was one of the first works of art I had ever seen that I could actually relate to. I wasn’t sure what his intention was, the artist Andy Warhol, I didn't know what he had in mind. But I knew people with nose jobs. And they all happen to be Jewish. So my question was, was this, sort of in my little adolescent head, was this painting bad for the Jews? I actually didn't care because it just spoke about something I actually understood, something from my own experience.

That had never happened looking at a piece of art. Pretty women, or women being tortured, or women being murdered, or women just posing, was what most art history was about. That wasn't news. What was news is that it reflected an experience I was familiar with. 

Narrator: In a veiled way, this is one of Warhol’s most autobiographical works, reflecting—with humor and irony—the pressure he felt to assimilate. He himself had his nose thinned, and dropped the “a” in his family surname, Warhola, because he felt it revealed his immigrant origins too clearly. 

A drawing of a side profile of a woman before and after a nose surgery.

Narrator: Warhol based this painting on an ad for nose jobs that he found in the back pages of the National Enquirer.  

Deborah Kass: I first discovered Andy in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times when I was around thirteen. In the sixties. I saw his painting Before and After and it totally blew my mind.

Narrator: Artist Deborah Kass. 

Deborah Kass: I knew I wanted to be an artist and that was the art section. But this was one of the first works of art I had ever seen that I could actually relate to. I wasn’t sure what his intention was, the artist Andy Warhol, I didn't know what he had in mind. But I knew people with nose jobs. And they all happen to be Jewish. So my question was, was this, sort of in my little adolescent head, was this painting bad for the Jews? I actually didn't care because it just spoke about something I actually understood, something from my own experience.

That had never happened looking at a piece of art. Pretty women, or women being tortured, or women being murdered, or women just posing, was what most art history was about. That wasn't news. What was news is that it reflected an experience I was familiar with. 

Narrator: In a veiled way, this is one of Warhol’s most autobiographical works, reflecting—with humor and irony—the pressure he felt to assimilate. He himself had his nose thinned, and dropped the “a” in his family surname, Warhola, because he felt it revealed his immigrant origins too clearly. 


Andy Warhol, Before and After [4], 1962. Acrylic and graphite on linen, 72 1/8 x 99 3/4 in. (183.2 x 253.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Charles Simon 71.226. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York