Title: Mao (FS II.125A)
Medium: Screenprint on wallpaper
Size: 40.125” x 29.5”
Edition: Edition of approximately 100. Signed in felt pen.
Mao Zedong, a Chinese Communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, is regarded as one of the most important figures in modern world history. Although a controversial individual, he is praised for modernizing China and turning it into a world power by promoting the status of women and improving education as well as other accomplishments. This screenprint was published for a Warhol exhibition at the Musée Galliera in Paris, France. Warhol’s fine detail of Mao’s features enables one to identify the prominent figure even with minimal context. The splash of indigo placed on Mao’s face makes it a signature Warhol painting with the pop of color.
Mao 125A as Part of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
After President Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, and the inevitable buzz it created in the press, Andy Warhol was inspired to create a series of prints that would immortalize the image of the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong. Warhol could see a blurry mirror image of US media to Chinese propaganda.There were parallels between the cult like following of movie stars in the West and Mao Zedong in the East. Seeing these in a strange likeness, Warhol produced his Mao series in a fashion reminiscent of his portraits of American celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. These color charged screen prints of Mao were further set apart by the layers of graffiti-like scribbles that were screened on separately, transforming Mao into a world wide pop icon.
Andy Warhol created the Mao series during the early 1970s when he was taking many commissions for celebrities. Celebrity portraits developed into a significant aspect of his career and a main source of income. Other series produced during this time are the Mick Jagger series, Muhammad Ali series and unpublished works of various celebrities such as Truman Capote.