Look deeper at the man beneath the wig
SFX: A Polaroid camera snaps a photo: we hear the whir of the motor, and the film being ejected from the camera.
Andy Warhol was the very first master of the selfie. He was hardly ever seen without his Polaroid camera in hand. He snapped pictures of — and with — everyone he knew. It’s like he predicted the age of Instagram when he said, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”
SFX: polaroid snaps, but sounds echoe-y, lots of reverb
But this image, made late in his career, feels different from those earlier snapshots and silkscreens. After capturing every face from Marilyn Monroe to Chairman Mao, here Warhol presents a very unglamorous — almost vulnerable — portrait of himself.
Andy’s disembodied head is floating in a sea of black, washed over in lavender, a few drips drifting above him like bubbles. His face is low in the frame, with his signature white wig sticking up at all angles, dominating, demanding equal attention to the artist who made it part of his look.
There are portraits of faces, portraits of busts. This seems to be, in some ways, a portrait of a wig … and the man who lived beneath it.
This silkscreened self-portrait from 1986 is 80 inches square and depicts the face and spiky hair of iconic artist Andy Warhol near the end of his life. He looks directly at the viewer, eyes wide and mouth agape, caught in the burst of a flashbulb. His hair, which is obviously a wig, is cut in long, jagged pieces that shoot out in every direction like straw.
A thick spike of hair shoots up from the top of his head at a 45-degree angle toward the upper left corner of the painting. Another spike of hair juts toward the lower right corner of the painting, creating a diagonal line. His face and hair are tinted lavender, and he is surrounded on all sides by black. His head is low in the frame.
His chin almost seems to be resting on the bottom of the canvas. Floating in all that blackness without a body, his face looks like a mask.
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