Controversial, commercial, and important, just like the man they portrayed and the man who painted them. And they were all about power: the power of one man over the lives of over one billion people. Mao Tse-Tung, it might be noted, was the only political figure Andy ever painted of his own volition. - Bob Colacello
The Mao series marked a significant change of direction both in style ad subject matter in Andy Warhol’s art. Just as he had engaged with political issues in his previous series – Race Riots and Electric Chair in 1963 – so his Mao series reflected his greater awareness of shifts in political and cultural change. Executed while a period of tension between the United States and Communist China was giving way to diplomacy and an interest trade between the two powers, Warhol appropriated the image of the authoritarian leader, the embodiment of the revolutionary force of the masses in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
Here, Warhol fetishized Mao in vivid, gaudy colours; framed in such a way as to suggest fame, celebrity, and the mechanisations of cultural production. Seamlessly moving from painting the shock of the new to everyday objects of commodity culture and glamorous starlets, Warhol portrayed Chairman Mao in a wonderfully subversive way.
The present Mao portfolio, comprising all ten screenprints, was considered by Andy Warhol as the crispest, strongest, and best colour set created during the printing process; all other screenprints in the edition were referenced and compared for colour and quality against the present portfolio.
It is rare indeed to come across the iconic series of Mao screenprints still in held in entirety. Halcyon Gallery is pleased to present our Pop-Up of Pop Art, Andy Warhol: Mao. We welcome you to view this exclusive exhibition, on show for a limited time only.