Mao at the Met: a disturbing juxta-position?

 

“My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.”

Andy Warhol

 

New York 129

Mao Zedong by Andy Warhol (1928‑1987)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan

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Andy Warhol became interested in China in 1971. “I have been reading so much about China. They’re so nutty. They don’t believe in creativity. The only picture they ever have is of Mao Zedong. It’s great. It looks like a silkscreen”.

The following year he began work on the portrait, which grew into ten variations, all based on the portrait that appears in Little Red Book: the thoughts of Chairman Mao.

In 2012 the portraits were part of the touring art show ‘Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal’.  The exhibition, organised by the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, marked the 25th anniversary of Warhol’s death. The Mao portraits, however, did not make an appearance in either Beijing or Shanghai when the show went to Asia in 2013.  The official Chinese view was that the portraits were disrespectful in suggesting that the former leader wore make-up. All the same, Mao Zedong’s legacy is currently undergoing some re-evaluation in China. There are even admissions that mistakes were made. It is a start…

 

For more juxtapositions go to Weekly Photo Challenge