9 x 12"
oil on panel
Andy Warhol created many versions of the Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung, from small to enormous. In the Art Institute of Chicago, his Mao, 1972, which measures nearly 12 feet wide by 15 feet tall, can't be missed.
To understand why Warhol painted Chairman Mao is to know the artist and his fascination with celebrity and fame. He created silk-screens of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Elvis to name a few. He contemplated what it meant to be famous and what it could possibly be worth to the world.
Warhol had read in Life magazine that Mao was the most famous person in the world and the forced ubiquity of the Chinese leader's image throughout his country inspired Warhol - also considering his image would lend itself to silk-screen.
Mao is said to be Warhol's first political portrait, even though he never openly stated his political views. His widely known works had a focus on condemning the relentless consumerism of an American capitalism and the advertising giants who hammer these images into our brains - think Campbell soup cans, Coca-Cola, etc. - and his Mao portraits virtually said the same thing. Controlled propaganda selling Communism in China.
Please click here for a larger view.