More about Nixon (Vote McGovern)


Andy Warhol’s Richard Nixon is as green as Trump is orange.

Andy Warhol’s Richard Nixon is much more than a maniacal shot of the 1972 presidential candidate. The anti-Nixon propaganda piece rails against Nixon in support of candidate McGovern (which, I know, sounds like a falsified candidate name in a movie). It disses Nixon not just by depicting Nixon as a green devil-man (or the Wicked Witch of the West), but also by referencing Nixon’s previous campaign against John F. Kennedy in 1960. Specifically, it alludes to their most famous debate, the first live-casted presidential debate ever, during which Nixon succumbed to an infamous makeup debacle. During his debate with Kennedy, Nixon refused to wear the recommended makeup or use the recommended makeup artist. With naturally pale skin and facial hair that he claimed would show 30 minutes after shaving - we get it Nixon, you’re body is blustering with testosterone - Nixon possessed a sort of permanently gray complexion. Suffice it to say that sans makeup and plus additional stress, his gray complexion did not compliment his gray suit.

Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley famously commented on Nixon’s get-up during the debate saying, “My God, they’ve embalmed him before he even died.” To make matters worse, when the debate inevitably grew heated, thick beads of perspiration formed on Nixon’s upper lip, and these beads were clearly visible to viewers. Nixon’s mother even reportedly called him after the debate to see if he was ill. In that 1960 election, Nixon ended up losing to Kennedy. A poll revealed that over 50% of voters felt that the televised debate influenced their vote. So of course, when this 1972 election rolled around, Warhol gave a not-so-subtle nod to the catastrophe of 1960, depicting Nixon as pale and greenish, with “Vote McGovern” below his face. While Nixon won the 1972 election, Warhol’s print still raised $40,000 for the Democrats’ campaign.

The piece also served as a sort of trailblazer for election art, and it’s thanks to Warhol that we see election art like Shepard Fairy’s Hope poster for the 2008 Obama election, Dan Lacey’s “Binders Full of Women” (which also exploded into a series of memes) poking fun of Romney for his comment in a debate when asked about pay equality, or Sarah Levy’s portrait of Trump, Whatever, which she painted using her menstrual blood and a tampon in response to Trump’s comment on Fox’s host, Megyn Kelly - “You could see blood coming out of her eyes, out of her whatever.”