ANDY WARHOL’S SELF-PORTRAIT 1
Andy Warhol’s Self-Portrait
Andy Warhol was an influential magazine illustrator, who became asymbol of contemporary culture. He ventured into various art formssuch as writing, video installations, filmmaking, and performance.Andy’s body of work covered all media and contributed to theamalgamation of mainstream aesthetics and other cultural aspects.Notably, he was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburg, California. Andygrew up in a working-class neighborhood located in Oakland ("AndyWarhol and the Self-Portrait on Sotheby`s Blog," 2016). Hismother was an embroiderer while his father was a construction worker.Several factors heightened Andy`s artistic abilities. Firstly, he wasdiagnosed with chorea, a rare condition that afflicts the nervoussystem. The neurological disorder confined him to his sickbed forseveral months. Hence, Andy found solace in comic books and popularcelebrity magazines ("Andy Warhol and the Self-Portrait onSotheby`s Blog," 2016). Furthermore, his mother was a skilledartist and gave him drawing lessons during his bedridden state. Andyalso developed a passion for movies and other literary presentations.His mother bought him a camera after he recovered from his illness.Therefore, such factors nurtured Andy’s passion in drawing,photography, and other artistic pursuits.
Granted, Andy faced several struggles during his life such as thedeath of his father in 1942. The event was quite traumatic for himsince he could not muster the courage needed to attend the wake. In1968, Warhol was shot by a radical feminist author named as ValerieSolanas (Alligood, 2015). In fact, Andy was fortunate to survive theattack from the aspiring playwright. The shooting and its aftermathcaused the artist to adopt an increasingly reclusive personality.Furthermore, his critical views on President Richard Nixon subjectedhim to intense pressure from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).Consequently, Warhol developed obsessive habits that permeated hisprofessional relationships ("Andy Warhol and the Self-Portraiton Sotheby`s Blog," 2016). Andy’s main influences were themovie stars who lived during his childhood. He was greatly inspiredby celebrities and pop culture such that he worked for magazines suchas Vogue, Harper`s Bazaar, and The New Yorker. Arguably Warhol’sgreatest challenge occurred when he underwent gall bladder andsubsequently died on February 22, 1987 at 58 ("Andy Warhol andthe Self-Portrait on Sotheby`s Blog," 2016).
Warhol’sConnection to the Painting
Indeed, the artist’s upbringing had a bearing on the creation ofthe “Self-Portrait.” The painting is covered in brown, black,blue, and gray colors. Such pale hues reflect Warhol’s childhoodobsession with comic books and mainstream magazines ("AndyWarhol and the Self-Portrait on Sotheby`s Blog," 2016). Hence,he was fond of mixing different colors in his painting. It isimportant that Andy draws his portrait using an eccentric wig. Theartist was fascinated by pop culture and Hollywood (Freund, 2013).Consequently, he used the wig as a constant feature to depict hispassion for fine arts (Freund, 2013). The self-portrait also showsthe artist’s self-indulgent demeanor. Rather than judge otherpeople’s actions, Warhol preferred to examine his thoughts andattitudes. Therefore, the artwork represented a desire to lookinwardly for solutions to emerging problems.
Additionally, Warhol used the self-portrait to honor his endlessstring of successes. In fact, the extent of his achievements andcontributions towards art were unprecedented. Notably, the paintingreveals the personal struggles facing the artist. Warhol was shot byan aspiring author, who had featured in one of his films. The ladywas reportedly upset over Andy’s refusal to use her script.Subsequently, the artist spent several weeks in hospital while herecuperated from his injuries (Alligood, 2015). The incident causedWarhol to become more withdrawn. Therefore, the disembodied nature ofthe painting reflects his wish to be free of social interaction.
Similarly, the setting of the artwork reflects a significant place inAndy’s life. In this respect, the self-portrait depicts Warhol as ahaunting, poignant mask (Freund, 2013). The artist was deeply alarmedby the nearly fatal encounter. In fact, he constantly thought aboutthe sudden turn of events on that fateful day. Inevitably, Warholswore never to forget that experience. Therefore, the paintingreflects his attitude towards the brevity of human life. The artworkhas a camouflage pattern that shows Warhol’s desire to retreat fromthe limelight (Freund, 2013). His outspokenness had inspired avendetta with the President. Andy’s public appearances had alsoexposed him to a life-threatening ordeal. Hence, the paintingmanifests his determination to lead a private and understatedlifestyle.
Learning more about Warhol enabled me to understand theself-portrait. In particular, I could see the connection between hischildhood preferences and his artwork. Moreover, the subject matterof the painting is significant since it portrays an obvious reality.The artist sought to emphasize the fact that evil could occur out ofseemingly ordinary settings. Furthermore, some circumstances couldcause law-abiding people to commit despicable atrocities. The artistcreated the painting by applying silkscreen ink and synthetic polymerpaint on canvas (Freund, 2013). The material used to create theartwork was highly significant in Andy’s life since it served toidentify his work. In this regard, Warhol combined various art formssuch as painting, silkscreen, and photography. In addition, thedramatic use of the shadow displays his deep connection to arthistory. Consequently, the artist’s struggles, triumphs, andinterests are reflected in the painting.
Alligood, C. (2015). Warhol`s nature. London, UK: Scala Arts &Heritage Publishers.
Freund, A. B. (2013, October 31). Andy Warhol and theSelf-Portrait on Sotheby`s Blog. (2016). Sothebys.com.Retrieved fromhttp://www.sothebys.com/en/news-video/blogs/all-blogs/21-days-of-andy-warhol/2013/10/andy-warhol-self-portraits.html
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts – Andy WarholBiography. (2016). Warholfoundation.org. Retrieved fromhttp://warholfoundation.org/legacy/biography.html
List of Visual Observations:
1. The artistwore a wig to depict Hollywood
2. Differentcolors of blue, gray, and brown were used to show his childhoodfascination with comic books
3. The materialused in the painting was silkscreen ink and synthetic polymer paint
4. The artistused a self-portrait to show self-indulgence and self-appraisal
5. The camouflagepattern shows a desire to maintain privacy
6. The dramaticuse of shadow shows his deep connection to art history
7. Thecombination of various art forms identifies his work
8. The subjectmatter reveals the hideous and unpredictable qualities of humanity
9. The hauntingmask shows the unforgettable nature of the shooting experience
10. Thedisembodied aspect of the painting shows his endeavor to desist fromsocial interactions