10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Mick Jagger

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Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.143) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.143) © Andy Warhol 1975
Toni Clayton

Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist

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Sultry and striking, Andy Warhol's Mick Jagger series is a collaboration between Pop Artist and rock star. With his candid and intimate approach to Jagger's portrait, Warhol captured the pinnacle of counterculture in the 1970s, and championed nonconformity in every sense of the word.

1.

The series plays with the sex appeal of the celebrity.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.143) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.143) © Andy Warhol 1975

The Rolling Stones' frontman, Mick Jagger, was famed for his sex appeal and raunchy public persona. Given Warhol's fascination with the pin-up celebrity, something which informed other iconic series like his Grace Kelly portfolio, it is unsurprising that his attention should turn to this rock and roll sex symbol of the 1970s. With his collaged application of colour, Warhol drew particular attention to Jagger's sultry gaze and voluptuous pouting lips.

2.

The prints are signed by both Warhol and Jagger.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.138) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.138) © Andy Warhol 1975

Perhaps it was Warhol's preoccupation with the business of art which inspired him to have Jagger co-sign the 10 prints in this series. On each of the prints, Jagger's signature appears on the left, and Warhol's is on the right. This not only reveals the collaborative process between artist and sitter, but also the idea of the celebrity's signature adding value to an already covetable Warhol print.

3.

The series was produced with Warhol's famed technique of Polaroid photography.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.142) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.142) © Andy Warhol 1975

These works were produced in the summer of 1975, when Jagger and his then-wife, Bianca, were renting Warhol's home in Long Island. During their stay, Warhol took the opportunity to photograph Jagger using his iconic Polaroid camera. These photographs of the bare-chested Jagger informed the basis of the portfolio, and give the works a jovial, intimate, and sometimes candid appeal.

4.

The series marks a point of departure in Warhol's oeuvre.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.141) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.141) © Andy Warhol 1975

Warhol's use of Polaroid shots he captured himself, with a greater focus on collaged elements, marks a distinct shift in his artistic progress. Where Warhol had previously relied on mass-circulated images from the media, as we see in his Mao and Jackie Kennedy series, Mick Jagger is underscored by the more personal relationship between artist and sitter. Likewise, with his emphasis on haphazard, colourful collage, the series is reminiscent of his more non-representational works emerging in the 1970s.

5.

The portfolio, like Warhol's entire body of work, is a time capsule of sorts.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.140) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.140) © Andy Warhol 1975

The Mick Jagger portfolio not only captures one of the most iconic rock stars of the 1970s, but also represents the popular culture which shaped society during this lively decade. The series captures Jagger during the heights of fame, the prolific cultural relevance of the Rolling Stones and their music, and the eclectic social scene Warhol and his 'superstars' shaped. As Jagger reflected after Warhol's death: "The thing that he seemed able to do was capture society, whatever part of it he wanted to portray, pretty accurately. That's one of the things artists do, is show people later on what it was like."

6.

Warhol met Jagger in 1963 during the Rolling Stones' first tour of the US.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.146) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.146) © Andy Warhol 1975

Back in 1963, over a decade before the Mick Jagger series was created, the singer met the artist at a party before the Rolling Stones established their icon status. After this notorious meet-cute, the pair remained friends throughout their respective careers and exponential rise to fame.

7.

The Mick Jagger portfolio wasn't the first collaboration between Warhol and Jagger.

Sticky Fingers Album Cover by Andy WarholSticky Fingers Album Cover © Andy Warhol 1971 © Vanity Fair

Given Warhol's indelible ties to popular culture, it is unsurprising that several bands in the 1960s and 70s were eager to have him design their album covers. In 1967, Warhol designed his first album cover for the Velvet Underground & Nico's LP, which depicted a large screen-printed yellow banana. Warhol returned to album cover design in 1971, with a more ambitious project for the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers. The cover focused on a close-up of a man's bulging crotch, with a functional zipper that opened to reveal underwear fabric beneath the cardboard. Produced in Warhol's Factory, the cover is a true relic of 1970s pop culture.

8.

The portfolio blurs the line between 'high' and 'low' culture.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.145) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.145) © Andy Warhol 1975

The relative cheapness of the screen printing process was intrinsic to Warhol's creative process. Warhol took some of the most esteemed 'super-celebrities' of his age and mass-produced their portraits in gaudy colours to represent the excess of fame. In the case of his Mick Jagger series, Warhol used cheap Colour Aid papers to imbue Jagger's portrait with colour and toy with society's approach to the celebrity as a modern deity.

9.

Jagger is one of Warhol's most eye-catching and distinctive "superstars".

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.147) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.147) © Andy Warhol 1975

Mick Jagger is a celebrity quite unlike Warhol's other iconic muses, like Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. Unlike his screen prints of mass-circulated portraits, Warhol's Mick Jagger series reveals Jagger's more rebellious public persona. Warhol's use of Polaroid shots he captured himself, and the carefully drawn elements added after the printing process, give these works a greater sense of grit and passion.

10.

The portfolio is representative of 1970s counterculture.

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.144) by Andy WarholMick Jagger (F. & S. II.144) © Andy Warhol 1975

With his more candid portraits of Jagger, Warhol captured the nonconformist spirit of the 1970s. Unlike the portraits of his "superstars" in the 1960s, the Mick Jagger series champions counterculture and this risqué decade of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The series also champions queer sex appeal, as Warhol said of Jagger: "Mick brings out the bisexuality in men who normally would not be like that. He's androgynous enough for almost everyone." Though it may seem like a cliché, Warhol's defence of nonconformity in this portfolio was extremely ahead of its time.

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