Andy Warhol’s portrait of the Russian political leader Vladimir Lenin diverges from many of the conventions that seem to define his oeuvre. In this piece, Lenin is set against a deep red backdrop with minimal lines employed to distinguish his face and hand. The print lacks the contrast and details that characterize so many of Warhol’s prints. The lack of extraneous detail and color deters the viewer from focusing on anything else other than his face.The deep red color of the screenprint is as symbolic to the revolution as the man who led it. While Warhol was known for his self-admitted shallowness and obsession with glamour, Red Lenin 403 illustrates the diversity of Warhol’s subject matter. He was not simply confined to portraying beautiful celebrities or icons of wealth.
Red Lenin 403 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
Warhol demonstrates the diversity of his subject matters as he reaches out beyond the realm of Hollywood celebrities, socialites, rock stars and wildly popular household items and explores a more daring subject — politics. By doing so, we are confronted with an ambiguously conflicting thought: Did Warhol choose a political figure as his focus to bring depth to his portfolio of motifs, or did he take the depth out of politics by choosing this subject matter to exist next to the ubiquitous images of soup cans, dollar signs and flowers? In fact, Warhol was deeply fascinated by political figures, regardless of how they are perceived. In addition to his Lenin portfolio, Warhol created prints of leaders such as Mao Zedong, Alexander the Great and John F. Kennedy.