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Andy Warhol The Great Wall of China 《中國萬里長城》 1982 Blindstamp credit in the margin. Initialled ‘T.J.H.’ by Timothy J. Hunt of the Andy Warhol Foundation in pencil, estate copyright credit reproduction limitation and date stamps on the verso. Gelatin silver print Image: 20.3 x 25.4 cm. (7 7/8 x 10 in.) Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity signed in ink by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
Provenance The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York Acquired from the above by the present owner Exhibited Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria; Pittsburgh, The Andy Warhol Museum, Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei, 11 December 2015 – 11 September 2016 Literature Nicholas Chambers, Michael Frahm and Tony Godfrey, eds., Warhol in China, Germany, 2014, pp. 72-73, 299 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay “I went to China…and I went to see the Great Wall. You know, you read about it for years. And actually it was really great. It was really really really great.” Andy Warhol October 27, 1982: Flying from New York on PAN AM, which at the time was the gold standard of international service, Andy Warhol, along with photographer Christopher Makos, Andy’s business manager Fred Hughes, and Fred’s friend Natasha Grenfell arrived in Hong Kong. Thanks to an invitation extended by young businessman Alfred Siu, who had commissioned portraits of Prince Charles and Princess Diana from Warhol for the nightclub he was opening, the small entourage was surprised with a VIP trip to the Chinese capital for a few days. Beijing, to Warhol, was like a burst of visual images of graphics. Seeing Chinese characters on his plane, passing signs on the way from the airport, the foreign cars, the different smells, Warhol was acutely aware of what was different or strange about the place. To anyone travelling into China from the West, it must have been a sensory overload, and a stark contrast especially for Warhol. So much so, perhaps, that the artist would attempt to apprise his new experiences by drawing comparisons to more familiar ones. “It’s like walking up to the Empire State Building.” Climbing up one of the greatest world heritage sites, Warhol likened the Great Wall to a landmark more firmly rooted in his domestic experiences, namely the Empire State Building, highlighting Warhol’s relatable position as that of a curious tourist. In these instances, we are offered an unobstructed view of Warhol beyond and behind the artist. Snapping away at will while roaming the Great Wall and the Ming tombs, like all tourists do, a Chinon camera in hand, a slight wrinkle in his forehead, focused eyes underneath his rounded spectacles, Warhol not only continued his ongoing obsession with looking but also paradoxically became the object viewed. Each photograph presents a record of what Warhol was looking at, but also sometimes of people looking back at him. His fascination with repetition and patterning comes through, yet his instinctive eye for relaying the everyday detail remains– the endless cobbled grounds, the abstract shapes of Chinese calligraphy, men and women, young, old, all in their Mao suits, curl after curl of coiled incense, this was to Warhol, this was China, new and hitherto unexplored. Read More Artist Bio Andy Warhol American • 1928 - 1987 A seminal figure in the Pop Art movement of the early 1960s, Andy Warhol's paintings and screenprints are iconic beyond the scope of Art History, having become universal signifiers of an age. An early career in commercial illustration led to Warhol's appropriation of imagery from American popular culture and insistent concern with the superficial wonder of permanent commodification that yielded a synthesis of word and image, of art and the everyday. Warhol's obsession with creating slick, seemingly mass-produced artworks led him towards the commercial technique of screenprinting, which allowed him to produce large editions of his painted subjects. The clean, mechanical surface and perfect registration of the screenprinting process afforded Warhol a revolutionary absence of authorship that was crucial to the Pop Art manifesto. View More Works
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