Camouflage Self-Portrait

Andy Warhol, American, 1928 - 1987

Geography:
Made in United States, North and Central America

Date:
1986

Medium:
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas

Dimensions:
6 feet 8 1/2 inches × 6 feet 4 inches × 1 1/2 inches (204.5 × 193 × 3.8 cm)

Copyright:
© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1993-131-1

Credit Line:
Acquired with funds contributed by the Committee on Twentieth-Century Art and as a partial gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 1993

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Label:
In this self-portrait Andy Warhol combines a Polaroid photo of himself with a hot pink and red camouflage pattern, contrasting the individuality of portraiture with the uniformity of camouflage. The artist stares directly out at the viewer, screened by a pattern that offers the illusion of personal protection but also implies imminent danger. This piece, part of a series of camouflage paintings, was created in 1986, the year before the artist's death. Like Thomas Hirschhorn today, Warhol was intrigued by the use of camouflage in the military and in fashion as an ambiguous instrument that could either conceal or call attention to the wearer.

Additional information:
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Andy Warhol's self-portrait is best seen in relationship to the artist's role as a keen observer of contemporary American society in pursuit of celebrity and of the ways its images come to define reality. Famous for his paradoxical mix of elusiveness and ubiquity, he had carved out an artistic credo for himself early in his career, as he explained: "If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it."1 In his series of late self-portraits he pictured himself in the role of the superstar, a concept he singularly defined for late twentieth-century Americans.

    This self-portrait, realized months before the artist's sudden death, has assumed a peculiarly elegiac quality, reinforced by Warhol's ambiguous gaze, his strangely detached head, and the frozen ballet of his strawlike white wig. In the 1980s Warhol often paired photographic, representational images with painterly, abstract patterns, the strategy used for Camouflage Self-Portrait. It was made by combining at least two silk-screened images: one enlarged from a Polaroid self-portrait, the second an abstract camouflage pattern, which he translated from the typical military olive drab into hot pink and red. Warhol's adoption of camouflage, a mechanism for concealing identity, could not be a better self-representation for an artist who reproduced his own image repeatedly yet remained ever the voyeur who kept his private self far from the limelight. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 137.

    Note:
    1) Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Andy Warhol (Berlin: Gerd Fleischmann, 1969), n.p.