Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1966 Analysis Essay

Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art—he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.

American, 1928-1987, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York

Self-Portrait (1966) was constructed in what would become one of Warhol’s signature styles—a grid of bright, repeated silkscreened portraits. An expert colorist, Warhol paired primary and secondary colors as well as different shades of the same color.

In the latter part of his career, Warhol focused more and more on portraiture. He created portraits of people he admired—musicians Michael Jackson and Grace Jones, athletes O.J. Simpson and Muhammed Ali—as well as wealthy socialites he met on the New York social circuit. By the mid-1960s, Warhol had amassed a huge public following of artists, filmmakers, performers, writers, and art patrons seduced by his persona. Engaging in the painting of self-portraits only further cultivated his fame. In time, Warhol’s self-portraits became as famous as the iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor. The artist had himself become a celebrity.

Having the character of an icon, i.e., an important and enduring symbol, an object of great attention and devotion.

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Something formed or constructed from parts.

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A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).

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One of three base colors (blue, red, or yellow) that can be combined to make a range of colors.

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A distinctive or characteristic manner of expression.

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A printing technique in which areas of a silkscreen, comprised of woven mesh stretched on a frame, are selectively blocked off with a non-permeable material (typically a photo-emulsion, paper, or plastic film) to form a stencil, which is a negative of the image to be printed. Ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface with a squeegee, creating a positive image.

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A representation of oneself made by oneself.

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A representation of a particular individual.

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The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.

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Andy Warhol, Auteur of the Ordinary
Warhol began to make films in 1963. His subjects were often unscripted ordinary events—a man getting a haircut (Haircut), a man sleeping (Sleep), a person eating a mushroom (Eat), or two people kissing. He also filmed Screen Tests (1964–66), portraits of friends who were instructed to sit as still as possible while the camera rolled. Warhol, too, was no stranger to the camera and was photographed often by his friends, the press, and documentary filmmakers.

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