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Goethe (F. & S. II.271)

Goethe (F. & S. II.271)
Signed Print

Andy Warhol

Screenprint, 1982
Signed Print Edition of 100
H 96cm x W 96cm

Critical Review

Goethe (F. & S. II.271) is based on a painting of Goethe by Johan Tischbein, regarded as the most famous portrait in Germany. Much like his works inspired by the Mona Lisa in 1963, Warhol takes the original iconic painting and subverts it to call into question high art ideals on originality, authorship and what constitutes the value of art. In this iteration of the image, Warhol has removed the landscape background to focus instead on Goethe’s profile, in the style of his portraits from the 1960s of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe..

This portrait is produced with stark contrasts of colour with pops of red, pink, blue and yellow against a light blue backdrop, working to flatten the original image and render Goethe’s profile into a piece of Pop Art. Warhol also uses graphic lines to contour the image and presents a dichotomy between classical portraiture and the resulting Pop aesthetic. By staging Goethe, a figure of the classical past, as a superstar in the present, Warhol reflects on how mass media can change public perception of reality.