The screen print Martin Buber (F. & S. II.228) from Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits Of Jews Of The Twentieth Century series (1980), shows a portrait of the famous Jewish philosopher best known for the philosophy of dialogue, a new form of existentialism. The print employs Warhol’s graphic style that became characteristic of the latter part of his career, using an appropriated photographic image against an abstracted background and contoured crayon-like lines.
The Ten Portraits Of Jews Of The Twentieth Century series was the idea of Warhol’s dealer, Ronald Feldmen who, along with Susan Feldman, the art gallery director of the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Washington, came up with the list of ten names. This print is one of the darker portraits of the series wherein Warhol uses largely dark hues of blue against red and black outlines. The original image is barely visible behind the veneer of 1980s Pop Art and Warhol creates a pulsating image with his deliberately misaligned hand drawn contours.
Warhol transforms this historical image into an icon that pervades in the present, alluding to Buber’s lasting fame in 1980s American popular culture. Not only does this play into Warhol’s exploration in themes of mortality that are present throughout his entire career, but it captures his continued infatuation with the concept of fame. Warhol uses a mixture of hand drawn lines, unlikely colours, abstracted geometric shapes and the original photographic image to present the paradox between representation and reality.