Your Andy Warhol Specialists

Featured image for the Beethoven 392 screenprint by Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol - Beethoven F.S. II 392 wd jpg
The beethoven 392 screenprint by Andy Warhol out of frame.
Shows the certificate of authenticity with publisher's signature, printer's signature, and the executor of the Warhol Estate.
Andy Warhol Beethoven portfolio. 4 prints in a grid structure.
Size comparison image for Andy Warhol Beethoven 392, showing that the print is 40 by 40 inches.

Beethoven 392

Catalogue Title: Beethoven (FS II.392)

Year: 1987

Size: 40” x 40”

Medium: Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board

Edition: Edition of 60. 15AP, 10PP, 20 numbered in Roman numerals. 72 individual TP not in portfolios, signed and numbered in pencil on verso.

Hidden

Beethoven 392 by Andy Warhol is a screenprint from Warhol’s enigmatic Beethoven portfolio. The print captures the legendary musician and composer Ludwig Van Beethoven at work writing music. It is the third piece of a four part Beethoven screenprint series that recasts Joseph Karl Stieler’s Beethoven with the manuscript for Missa Solemnis (1820). Warhol transforms the originally austere and focused musician into an accursed victim of his talent.

In Beethoven 392, Beethoven’s coloration bears an eerie resemblance to the devil. His skin is flushed red-orange, which contrasts against his manicured pink hair and the toned-down cerulean blue of his stiff neck collar and parts of the background. A black darkness consumes the majority of the scene, including his jacket, while the shading of his features dehumanizes Beethoven. These shadows elongate his eyebrows, which arch into his hairline and create an angry black glare. Beethoven’s left hand casts shadows that make his fingernails appear like beastly claws.

The sheet music for Sonata No. 14 (the legendary “Moonlight Sonata”) flows across the page and above his figure, matching the dark tone of the scene and capturing the emotional process of writing the piece. While Beethoven 392 is especially ghastly, the entire series carries an ominous tone. This is due in part to Warhol’s choice of color, whether it is the sickly greens of Beethoven’s skin in Beethoven 391 and 393, or the icy royal blue of Beethoven 390

Moonlight Sonota is one of Beethoven’s greatest masterpieces. It is a haunting, heart-wrenching composition that has been featured in over 100 films of various genres throughout the years. Warhol’s Beethoven 392 and Beethoven’s music accomplish what all artists hope to achieve: a work that directly reflects the mood of the artist, and evokes these feelings in the viewer.

Beethoven’s musical rigor matched the severity of his personality in daily life. He often refused portraits, with few exceptions for elite artists such as Stieler. Warhol personifies these character traits, perhaps stemming from the emotional torture of the trade, and he may be diving deeper into the intensity and insecurity of his own artistic endeavors. During his later years, Beethoven struggled with deafness, among other ailments, and Warhol suffered similarly during the portfolio’s creation. Upon further reflection, Beethoven 392 may represent a dark turn due to Warhol’s ill health.

Fortunately Warhol made great artistic exploration in the late 1980s before his death, including the diversification of his subject matter. It distinguished Warhol as someone able to appreciate what once was, and as someone able to experiment with more risky motifs and compositions like Camouflage, Lenin, and Moonwalk.

Beethoven 392 gives audiences a glimpse into Warhol’s artistic transformation, especially near the end of his life as he became afflicted by declining health. Ultimately, the Beethoven prints allows us to explore the true expansion and variety of hi artistic limits.

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