Hear a mini play inspired by this painting
SFX: A beauty parlor, in the early 1960’s. Huge hood dryers hum, and the am/fm radio plays something bubble-gummy.
Marjorie, did you see this ad in the paper? With the “Before and After?”
One moment, Julia — my dryer’s still running.
SFX: She switches off the hairdryer.
What, now — ? Oh, yes, I saw it in the Enquirer! Such a difference, don’t you think?
Well, she certainly looks happier on the right.
Such a transformation! She scarcely looks like the same woman!
Now, that you mention it, Marjorie — it’s not just the nose. The eyes, the lips, they all look– smoother, happier, more pleasing somehow. Maybe she’s not even the same woman!
I remember when surgery was for medical reasons. Now it’s every little nip and tuck you can think of!
Marjorie, it’s 1961! Think of all the amazing things they’re doing with plastics! Someday maybe we’ll all look like this.
Fundamentally, it’s a question of image and identity, Julia. Isn’t that essentially what Nietzsche postulates — that humans can never really know themselves?
Oh, please, Marjorie. That’s such a feminist read! I mean, is there even an essential nature? Maybe beauty–surface–is all we need to bother with!
You’re so deep, Julia.
JULIA (Bothered by this):
MARJORIE (Giving in a little):
I’ve never been crazy about my nose. Tear that ad out for me, would ya?
I can’t. My nails are wet.
SFX: The dryer clicks back on. Music and salon atmosphere fades.
Andy Warhol’s Before and After from 1961 is four and half feet high by almost six feet wide. It shows a female face in profile twice, side-by-side, both looking to the left. By using black casein paint for the background, and white linen for the faces, Warhol creates a reverse silhouette. On the left, the woman has a large, downward-pointing beaked nose, bags under her eyes, and a mole on her cheek. On the right, the bags and the mole are gone, and the nose has been transformed into a smaller, slightly upturned, perky slope. Her lips curve a bit more in the “after” image, indicating a satisfied smile. The image is an enlarged illustration from a magazine advertisement for cosmetic surgery.
Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm it will be on view.
Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at email@example.com to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.