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Though Marilyn may be the most famous of Warhol’s muses, the Pop artist also dedicated a whole portfolio of prints to icon and actress Ingrid Berman The works were made in 1983 – just four year before Warhol’s death – at the request of a Swedish gallery –Galerie Borjeson in Malmo – who later published the suite.
The series, produced towards the end of Warhol’s life, showcases the artist’s enduring fascination with celebrity and the way in which fame could elevate a mere mortal to the status of goddess. Playing with the fact that these women’s faces – from Elizabeth Taylor to Marilyn to Ingrid Bergman – were available everywhere, in newspapers, on posters and on television. Warhol set about appropriating them for his own art, painting their portraits in an easily reproducible medium. Where once he would have been a highly successful court painter, making portraits in oils of the most fashionable figures of his time, from the ’60s to the ’80s Warhol used the Factory to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of images of these stars, contributing in no small part to the celebrity obsessed culture we are still living in today.
The series consists of two stills from Bergman’s films, The Bells of St. Mary’s and Casablanca, as well as a publicity portrait of the academy award winning actor in profile. These are titled The Nun, With Hat and Herself respectively. Each work highlights the iconic details of Bergman’s face that made her into the beloved star she is still known as today.
As well as adding his characteristic blocks of bright colour Warhol picks out certain features with elegant coloured lines that are reminiscent of his early career as a fashion illustrator. This is put to most striking effect in The Nun which sees Bergman’s famous features looking out at the viewer from behind the tight contours of a traditional nun’s wimple that only serves to make her seem more striking, if not a little distant. As well as the wimple, her face is also framed by blocks of bright colour that conspicuously divert from the seriousness of her face and costume. Her lips are given a soft pink hue, not at all in keeping with her habit, while the menacing sky behind her is transformed by shades of orange and turquoise.
In With Hat, the actress is turned away from the viewer in a show of disdain as the bright colours contrast harshly to keep the viewer at arm’s length from this unattainable beauty. Herself, however, offers a softer touch. Bergman’s face, though still tilted upwards and away from the viewer, is now lost in thought. Her eyes are softened and Warhol’s complementary colours overlay, suggesting a serenity that is harder to find in the other two images.