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The Design Center, DT&G / Photoshop Department / The Warhol Style / Part I: Introduction / The Warhol Style / Warhol Perception /

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Warhol Perceptions into Art

How did Warhol express Liz Taylor and Jackie Onasis

Most people haven't seen beyond Warhol's "Marilyn" -- however, there's much more. These two portraits further reveal Warhol's investigative powers in painting a picture of a real, living person...

Liz Taylor and Jackie Onasis

Liz Taylor: Here were the dreamy, secretive, bedroom eyes that captivated the hearts of a generation of men. Her jaguar-black hair, classis stature and snappy yet sultry demeanor made her truly an icon of femininity. I believe Warhol expressed this with the darkened palette, highlighted only by the bright flesh tones. The blues of the eye shadow, and the cool rendering of the flesh expressed not only the deep-running sexual side of Liz, but a decidedly 'cooler' aspect than the warmer, more 'decorated' vision of Marilyn.

Jackie Onasis: Contrast that with the Jackie Onasis portrait. Yes, the same colorization palette -- Warhol obviously saw them as very similar icons. However, the truth is in the subtle differences: eye shadow obviously smaller, and not as flamboyant -- a woman of state, the wife of a president. Notice that the selection of photo's hairstyle was decidedly 'every woman' and the addition of the strategically placed ear-rings matching the eye shadow; a woman of correct but underspoken fashion. Most importantly; the eyes. Unlike Liz's sexually beckoning alure, Jackie's gaze is bright, upturned, and knowing. Warhol wanted to present Jackie as engagingly intelligent and fashionably correct individual. Even the tilts of the respective heads are characteristically telling. Here is the wife of a president. A role model for all women of the day.

Departure from glamour

Warhol handled other subjects with completely different approaches, all based on his perception of that entity's essential characteristics. In order to more fully explain his subjects, Warhol would call upon what ever graphic devices best contributed to the story of the image. The introduction of 'invented' shapes to the image like squiggles, or backgrounds created with the tusche method to produce ragged, painterly edges and shapes.

Mao by Andy Warhol

The portrait of Mao Tse-Tung (?) exudes the Chinese personna through the colors selected for the jacket and background. We also see a lot more detail left in the facial features which suggests Andy didn't want this likeness to be vague or remote. The one tiny detail included tells the story of statesman and leader of an entire nation -- the sliver of white collar peeking through.

The Warrior: This image looks like a real departure, but it's really not. Warhol took the essence of a native American (?) and built elements of that into the handling of the subject -- natural, earth colors; the orange to exaggerate the race color differences; blood red for the breast plate, representing persecution; the 'face-paint' smears in natural colors for the hand-made, close-to-the-earth personae. (See enlargement) Each element, from the gaze of the eyes to color selection and placement attemps to explain the essence of this being.

With just these few demonstrations, we can see that Warhol's perception of the subject matter had as much to do with the technique as anything. Throughout his art, such departures are revealed; like smears in the inks, separate color overlays and more clearly defined photomechanical images. So while the overall look stayed somewhat the same, details in technique and styling evidenced subtle changes intended to tell a story, define a being. All of which cannot be done with a cookie-cutter Photoshop technique.

Next, we'll take a look at our subject matter, then plan the project using Adobe Illustrator...

Next: Thurgood Mashall through Andy's eyes


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