Andy Warhol created Mickey Mouse 265 in 1981 for his Myths series, which includes 10 screenprints of imaginary characters. His timeless fascination with celebrities and relentless exploration of fame were primary driving forces in his artistic career. Big names and faces pervade his artworks, from heirs to actors, scholars to athletes, Hollywood glamor girls to controversial political figures. The Myths series, while also spotlighting some of the most globally-recognized idols, does not adhere to the realm of reality. The subjects of these prints originate from the pages of beloved fantastical stories, allegorical tales, and ancient folklore, all widely popularized through media. Though each subject carries various cultural attributes, most are commercial icons essential to America’s entertainment legacy. The media’s power to bestow identity and individuality upon these fictional characters broadens our grasp of popular culture. As author Greg Metcalf put it, Warhol’s Myths series serves to remind us that “anyone (living or not, human or mouse) can be a cultural icon that sells, a celebrity. When celebrity is seen through its ability to sell, then being packaged to sell makes one a celebrity.”
Mickey Mouse 265 portrays one of the most merchandised faces in popular culture—Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse in his signature stance, off-centered, with his ever-recognizable, comically enormous ears occupying almost one-third of the frame. His bright red tongue and open-mouthed smile pop out against the print’s neutral tones. Subtle traces of pink and gold outline the figure’s face, a technique that Warhol frequently employed to highlight the subjects of his prints, as can be easily in series like Reigning Queens and Goethe. The print is inlaid with diamond dust, a glimmering substance that further enhances the treasured character’s glamor and charm. The black and white mouse, though simple in composition and color, instills a powerful sense of nostalgia and sentimentality among viewers. His beaming face and round jaunty ears instantly transport us to childhood reveries in front of the television.
Each print from the Myths series is said to represent a facet of Warhol’s personality. Mickey Mouse 265 not only reflects Warhol’s keen awareness of American popular culture, but also his personal aspirations. Warhol admired Mickey Mouse’s ubiquitous presence in the media and aspired to reach his level of influence and recognition. Warhol also cited consummate entrepreneur Walt Disney as one of his main artistic inspirations, praising both his creativity and aptitude for business.