About Face - Andy Warhol Portraits
Miami Art Museum: March 24 - June 4, 2000
For legal reasons, we had to remove the four photographs on this page with the end of the exhibition: Early Colored Jackie 1964. cat. 17; Female Movie Star Composite c.1962. cat. 11; Self-Portrait 1980. Polaroid photograph. cat. 50; Self-Portrait 1981-82. Polaroid photograph. cat. 55.
Article added in April 2000

 
The exhibition About Face includes more than 70 works, paintings, prints, photographs, videos and films by Andy Warhol. It features celebrity portraits, commissioned portraits, self-portraits, excerpts from his celebrity journal Interview magazine and clips from Andy Warhol's TV. The highlight of the exhibition are not the well-known portraits such as the Early Colored Jackie 1964, but his polaroid self-portraits.
 
Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo (Female Movie Star Composite), Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Elvis Presley: Andy Warhol's art expresses the American obsession with celebrity - which may come from the lack of an American king or queen. The artist himself was celebrity-driven and tried to approach the stars. Warhol also proved to be correct with his prophecy that "in the future everybody will be world famous for about 15 minutes", as a look at television programs shows.
 
Portraiture became a central theme in Andy Warhol's art. Therefore the exhibits in About Face range from the 1950s to the 1980s and cover his entire career. If one looks at one of his portraits, one does not first think of it as a painting, but as a Warhol. He was able to reverse values, forms, conventions and attitudes in his art.
 
Warhol's portraits are not only about celebrity, but also about identity. That can best be seen in his self-portraits, "based on negation and disappearance, the primary tropes of Warhol's myth. Warhol's drag is a failure, his masculine characteristics are ill-disguised, his wigs absurd, his looks more stunned than stunning. Indeed for Warhol, the failed performance was always the most fascinating" (Nicholas Baume): "If I ever have to cast an acting role, I want the wrong person for the part. [...] it's more satisfying to get someone who's perfectly wrong. Then you know, you've really got something."
 
In contrast to Baume's assertions, some of Warhol's Polaroid self-portraits (e.g. cat. 50) seem to reveal a troubling fragility of the artist as a human being and as a man, in search of his own identity.
 
The exhibition catalogue includes essays by Nicholas Baume and leading Warhol scholars Douglas Crimp (with a closer look at the faces in Warhol's portraits, especially in Blow Job) and Richard Meyer (who "examines the place of sexuality, celebrity and portraiture within the earliest moment of Warhol's professional career"). 128 p., 80 color plates, $ 22.95. For website of the Miami Art Museum and other museums: Artlinks.
 

Frayda Feldman, editor; Jorg Schellman, Claudia Defendi and Jorg Schellmann, contributors: Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne 1962-1987. Hardcover, Power House Cultural Entertainment, 3rd Rev edition, October 1997, 304 p. ISBN: 1881616908. Get it from Amazon.com.
 

Ernst Beyeler, Georg Frei, Peter Gidal, Edward Sanders: Andy Warhol - Series and Singles. Hardcover, Yale University Press, 2001, 220 p. ISBN: 0300089945. Get it from Amazon.com. - December 30, 2000: Check also our article: Andy Warhol - Series and Singles.


Added on March 31, 2002: Essential for any collector: Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisoné, Vol. 1: Paintings and Sculpture, 1961-1963. Phaidon, March 2002, 512 p. Edited by Georg Frei and Neil Printz. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.de.