Details
ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987)
Mao
screenprint in colours, 1972, on Beckett High White paper, signed in blue ball-point pen, stamp-numbered 240/250 (there were also fifty artist's proofs), published by Castelli Graphics and Multiples, New York, printed by Styria Studio, New York, with the artist and printer's copyright stamp verso, with the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board stamp and numbered A 147.072 in pencil verso
Image & Sheet 914 x 913 mm.

Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
Provenance
Private collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
Literature
Feldman & Schellmann II.93
Special notice
These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
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Lot Essay

The Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong, or Tse-tung (1893–1976) was one of the most famous and controversial political figures of the Post-War and Cold War periods. He led one of the longest revolutions, begun in 1927, proclaiming midway the PRC - People's Republic of China - in 1949, and maintained his leadership until 1976, year of his demise.
The good-natured face of the Chairman pervaded the years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in China and beyond its borders, elevating him to an icon of his time.
The cult image of Mao that Warhol used for his paintings and prints was borrowed from the Little Red Book - Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (1964), the condensation of the dictator’s ideology.
The portrait of the Communist leader came after Warhol had temporily abandoned portraiture. Bruno Bischofberger, his long-time dealer and friend, suggested him to devote his efforts again to this practice, turning his attention to the most famous public figures of his time. In 1972, Mao's image was constantly circulating through the media, as US President Nixon went to China for an historic encounter with the Chairman, which marked the end of a long-standing diplomatic disengagement between the two superpowers.
Warhol embraced capitalist and mass consumer-culture, systems harshly opposed by Mao's ideology. The Chairman's propaganda slogans and images, likewise, were mass-produced and disseminated throughout China. It was this parallel between political propaganda and capitalist advertising and production which grabbed Warhol's attention. Mao became the subject of five series of paintings (199 in total), drawings, a screenprint on wallpaper and the set of ten screenprints, one of his most iconic graphic work, alongside the Marilyn, Campbell's Soup and Electric Chairs (see lots 12-15 & 7).
Except in rare cases, Warhol's political vision has hardly been exposed and has been mostly considered neutral, even though his visual statements have served to illuminate and raise debate about socio-political circumstances at the time, in America and worldwide.
Often, the artist was able to subtly and playfully express his dissent: he opted for a vibrant colour palette, the communist leader was transformed into a Western glamourized and kitsch popstar, with eyeshadow, lipstick or blush. In the present example, his pink lips match his worker's shirt jacket (for another colour variation see lot 4).
The overlaying lines and doodles on this print can be interpreted as the artist's assertion of artistic freedom and personal expression, which was repressed during Mao's dictatorship. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the majority of artists and writers were seen as "reactionary literati", and humiliated and persecuted.

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