Warhol’s Mao Turns Fifty

Billy Anania at Art In America:

In 1982, a fifty-four-year-old Andy Warhol visited China for the first and only time in his life. Wandering the streets of Beijing ten years after producing his iconic portfolio of Mao Zedong portraits, he quickly took a liking to the uniformity of Chinese culture. “I like to wear the same thing every day,” he mused to Interview magazine photographer Christopher Makos, who reported this and other gnomic responses in the 2008 photobook Andy Warhol in China. Observing crowds of women and men all dressed in blue, Warhol remarked: “If I were a dress designer, I’d design one dress over and over.”

Warhol’s process in creating these prints mirrored that of the official Chinese artists who have painted fresh, identical portraits of Mao annually since 1950. Displayed prominently above the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tiananmen Square, the 20-by-15-foot likeness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chairman, based on an easel-painting original by Zhang Zhenshi, reflects the cultural split of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from its imperial past.

more here.