Andy Warhol published Mick Jagger 141 in 1975, four years after collaborating with the rock star on the Rolling Stones’ album Sticky Fingers. Each piece in the Mick Jagger portfolio draws attention to different sides of Jagger’s personality. In addition, the prints feature multimedia elements like line drawings and bright, chunky colors. Both Warhol and Jagger signed the prints in this collection, augmenting its stardom. The full series ranks amongst Warhol’s top 10 most valuable portfolios ever sold.
Warhol’s collaboration with the Stones was not his first foray into rock and roll. By the late 1960’s, he set painting aside to begin experimenting with filmmaking and performance art. Not long after, he gave the Velvet Underground their start with an appearance in his Exploding Plastic Inevitable show. In addition to the band’s performance, the spectacle included live dancers, Warhol films, whips, and strobe lights. Then, Warhol went on to produce the band’s first album and design their famous banana cover. Lou Reed once described the experience he had working with Warhol in the studio: “Andy was in fact behind the board gazing with rapt fascination…at all the blinking lights,” he explained. “He just made it possible for us to be ourselves and go right ahead with it because he was Andy Warhol.”
For Warhol, rock and roll was as Pop as the Campbell’s soup can. It was familiar, utterly American, lowbrow—and it had the power to revolutionize popular culture. It was no surprise that he would continue to revisit it throughout his career. Much like painting a soup can from a shelf, Warhol helped the Velvet Underground keep their sound true to its ethos. With his Mick Jagger portfolio years later, he took this idea one step further. By isolating Jagger and examining him from a multitude of vantage points, Warhol was able to unravel the mythology of his celebrity. The ten prints together depict Jagger as he was: a many-sided star.
Both Warhol and Jagger were partiers who enjoyed nightlife, and they crossed paths many times throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. During this time, Warhol frequented nightclubs like Max’s Kansas City and Studio 54. It was places like these where he socialized with a wide range of superstars like Truman Capote and Liza Minnelli, as well as Jagger and his wife, Bianca. After working together on the album cover for Sticky Fingers, the Stones stayed at Warhol’s Montauk residence while they rehearsed for their Tour of the Americas. Warhol saw their time together as a chance to explore what made Mick Jagger appealing to so many people. With his approval, Warhol took a slew of Polaroid shots showing Jagger naked from the waist up. He later developed these into screen prints.
Mick Jagger 141 displays Jagger at his most rebellious: here, he parades the bad boy persona that made him such an iconic figure. He gives Warhol a moody stare, his pouty lower lip jutting out in defiance. Jagger openly challenges the viewer in this stance, as if daring anyone to question his sense of self. Furthermore, Warhol showcases the best of his collage sensibilities in this portrait. Hot pink highlights Jagger’s eyes and lips, while raucous streaks of peach and sage green tear across the print.
As a whole, the Mick Jagger portfolio demonstrates Warhol’s fascination with Jagger as a talent and as an individual. By bringing attention to minute details in each portrait, he allowed the viewer ruminate on Jagger’s complexity as an artist.