80 x 80 inches
Gift of the Charles Engelhard Foundation in honor of Linda L. Cathcart, Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum from 1979 to 1987Arts of North America
In the 1960s a new artistic style overtook New York. Known as Pop Art and defined by its cool impersonality, this style embraced American popular culture, utilizing comics, tabloid photographs, and movie stills as artistic inspiration. Perhaps the best-known Pop artist was Andy Warhol, who conceived a new idea of the artist as celebrity.
Across his career, Warhol worked in the traditional genre of portraiture.
His portraits of celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley were taken from publicity stills and newspaper photographs. He used these portraits not only to question the originality of the artistic image but also to explore themes of death, celebrity, and postwar culture.
In this ghost-like self-portrait, produced a few months before his death, Warhol stares out at the viewer with an impenetrable glare. The artist’s disembodied head floats against an inky black background, his image silkscreened in a pale violet. Slack-jawed and wearing a platinum fright wig, Warhol likens his face to a skull or death mask.