Kimiko Powers by Andy Warhol

Kimiko Powers Andy Warhol

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After he became known for making Pop Art portraits of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol was soon in demand for commissions from wealthy patrons who also wanted to be immortalised in print. John and Kimiko Powers had a large collection of Pop Art and in 1972 John commissioned Warhol to make a portrait of his wife. Warhol visited their apartment to take some polaroids of Kimiko from which to work, an episode she remembered vividly and recalled in a 2001 interview: “And he said to me ‘turn your face up. Turn your face to the side. Oh, it’s beautiful… oh gee that’s great.’ He took Polaroids, one after another. Afterwards when we were finished, he put them all over the floor and asked, ‘Which one do you like?’ I said, ‘You’re an artist, you decide.’” This marked the beginning of a long friendship between the artist and model, whom he would paint again.

By accepting commissions such as these Warhol was indulging his belief that everybody deserves their 15 minutes of fame. Dressed in an elegant kimono with her hair arranged in a Japanese style, Kimiko Powers is portrayed as a classic beauty. The traditional elements of the portrait are subverted however by the bright tones Warhol has used to turn Kimiko into an icon of Pop Art. Her face is flooded with magenta while her robe is made blue to blend in with the background except for a green stripe on the collar. Her lips are also tinged with blue, recalling earlier portraits of Marilyn and Elizabeth Taylor.

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