Warhol prints are a fun and relatively inexpensive way for young and new collectors to begin their collections. It is also a good training ground, as you can explore and test different theories of collecting in rapid time: do you wish to go broad, deep or specific?
Broad would be collecting all different types of prints; deep would be collecting thematically, e.g. world leaders; specific would be going in to particular images and their variations, e.g. Chairman Mao.
1st Dibs has numerous prints for sale right now, and we have curated our recommendations based upon a broad strategy of focusing on world leaders.
Queen Elizabeth II Purple
Warhol’s portraits of Queen Elizabeth II was part of his reigning queen series and was developed from a photograph taken of the queen in 1977 during her silver jubilee. The series also included portraits of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Warhol’s portrait of Elizabeth II is about as iconic as it gets, and whether you focus on creating a collection of world leaders or not, it should still be a staple of your collection.
Vote McGovern 84
Not unlike artists have done of late for President Obama’s campaigns, Warhol created the original Vote McGovern image in order to raise funds for George McGovern’s campaign against Richard Nixon in 1972. But rather than produce a flattering image of McGovern (like he did for Jimmy Carter) Warhol created an unflattering image of his candidate’s opponent, and clarified his position by scrawling on the bottom: “Vote McGovern”.
Andy Warhol’s portrait of the Russian political leader, Vladimir Lenin, diverges from many of the conventions that seem to define Warhol’s oeuvre. In this piece, Lenin is set against a deep red backdrop, with minimal lines, only employed to distinguish his face and hand. The print lacks the contrast and details that characterize so many of Warhol’s prints. The only aspect of the print that is not enveloped by the solid block of a deep, crimson red is the yellow of Lenin’s face and hand and the gray of his collar and armrest. The lack of extraneous detail and color deters the viewer from focusing on anything else other than the face of the communist maverick who is one of the most notable political figures of the 20th century.
Andy Warhol created this green and blue version of Mao Zedong for his 1972 portfolio featuring the former Chairman of the Communist party of China. Reminiscent of the artist’s celebrity portraits, Warhol puts a pop art twist on the image of totalitarian propaganda by depicting Mao in bold vivid colors typical of his celebrity portraiture. In Mao 90, Andy depicted the Chinese ruler with a flamboyant blue face and light pink lips in make-up-like fashion. The subject stands out against the bright green background and the screen print is decorated with black squiggly lines, used to demonstrate the cult of celebrity that surrounded the Communist Chairman. The images are a sharp contrast to the Communist ideologies Mao represented, which rejected individualism. Andy Warhol took this juxtaposition further by creating the portraits of Mao Zedong in ten different color variations, typical of the pop artist’s method of repetition.