After President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China and the unavoidable buzz it created in the press, Andy Warhol was inspired to create the Mao complete portfolio. Many worried that this series of prints would wrongfully immortalize the image of the contentious Chinese leader, Mao Zedong. However, Warhol saw the iconic image as a blurry mirror between U.S. media and Chinese propaganda. There were parallels between the cult-like following of Hollywood stars in the West and Mao Zedong in the East. Thus, Warhol produced his Mao series in a fashion reminiscent of his portraits of American celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. These colorful screenprints of Mao were further set apart by the layers of graffiti-like scribbles that were screened on separately, transforming Chairman Mao into a worldwide pop icon.
Andy Warhol was greatly interested in politics, as is evident in a large portion of his work. In addition to his Mao portfolio, Warhol created prints of famous and infamous leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
The Mao complete portfolio was printed in 1972 by Styria Studio, Inc. New York. A portfolio of ten screenprints on Beckett High White Paper there are 250 prints signed in ball-point pen and numbered with a rubber stamp on verso. There are also 50 Artist Proofs signed and numbered in pencil on verso; some signed and numbered in ball-point pen. Included in this portfolio are: FS II.90-99.