Artworks
Andy Warhol

Quick Fact

Contributor

Andy Warhol was the master of the manicured celebrity persona.

Rockin’ sunglasses, radical wigs, and a downright funky fresh approach to life, Warhol had it all, riches to bitches…well, not exactly. He found the male gender a bit more tantalizing. Warhol was one of the first to realize how lucrative it was to sell oneself as a product, and he did it well. He was all about the superstar image. But who was the real Andy Warhol? Alice Neel is one of the few people who was able to strip away the larger-than-life façade and give us a peek at the authentic artist underneath.

Warhol once said, “Nudity is a threat to my existence." For a man that was all about sparkling in the spotlight, it’s understandable that he would not want the world to know about his mutilated, saggy bod. The scars across his chest are the result of an attempted assassination by radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas. She claimed he stole the script for a play she wrote, so she shot him. That’s some pretty airtight logic right there. Luckily, the ever unshakeable Warhol had a good outlook on the experience, calling the shooting “the best orgasm of his life,” even though he had to wear a surgical girdle for the rest of his life.

Nonetheless, this portrait doesn't lead me to believe that Warhol felt his scars were one of his more alluring qualities. It was also Warhol’s idea to be painted with his eyes closed. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what does this tell us about him? Most likely that underneath the veneer of a cool, collected rock star lays a vulnerable and lonely man. Alice Neel managed to capture an iconic figure's psychology and soul, doing an exquisite job of making us see how enigmatic our beloved Andy Warhol really was.