Mao 96 by Andy Warhol is a part of his notorious Mao portfolio, which sparked up controversy. Warhol presents Mao Zedong, the Former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, in a style reminiscent of his celebrity portraits. He fuses together the image of totalitarian propaganda and the colors found in his celebrity art to demonstrate the cult of personality surrounding the Chinese ruler. He uses bright colors and applies them in a makeup-like fashion as a form of personalization. This is a sharp contrast to Communist ideologies, which shunned individualism. This juxtaposition is taken further by the number of variations Warhol made of this image.
Mao 96 as Part of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
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 Other series produced during this time are the Mick Jagger portfolio, Muhammad Ali portfolio and unpublished works of various celebrities such as Truman Capote. However, Andy Warhol was also particularly interested in political figures throughout his career. In addition to his Mao portfolio, Warhol created prints of leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Alexander the Great and John F. Kennedy.