Printed in 1985, Beethoven (F. & S. II.392) is a screen print by Andy Warhol that captures his keen interest in celebrities and icons of popular culture. The print features an image of the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven rendered in uncharacteristic bold and vibrant colours which stand out against a dark backdrop. The composer’s concentrated gaze is intensified as his face is rendered in a bold pink which contrasts with the cool blue of his shirt collar and pastel pink hair.
Beethoven(F. & S. II.392) is one of a portfolio of four screen prints in Warhol’s Beethoven series, produced by the artist shortly before his death in 1987. The broad colour spectrum, unique to each of the prints, demonstrates Warhol’s skilful manipulation of images. Indeed, in this print, Warhol transforms the classical composer into a stylish 1980s pop icon.
Warhol took this image of Beethoven from the 1820 portrait of the composer by Joseph Karl Stieler. Stieler’s portrait became one of the most iconic images of Beethoven and this choice of image reflects Warhol’s obsession with icons of popular culture. Warhol was fascinated with celebrities, however the subject of this print differs from his more frequent depiction of movie stars, such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.