Gottfried Helnwein

Andy Warhol, New York 1983


Werk - Andy Warhol, New York 1983
Artist / Artist group
Gottfried Helnwein
Andy Warhol, New York 1983
Copy Number
photography, Black-and-white photography, Analog photography
Material / Technique
gelatin silver print in steel frame
Dimensions / Duration
99 x 66 cm
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

From 1982 to 1994, painter and photographer Gottfried Helnwein photographed for his »Faces« series many famous personalities from the worlds of literature, art, music, and film – including sculptor and architect Arno Breker, Beat Generation writer William Burroughs, and pop star Michael Jackson. The portrait-format black-and-white photographs are subjective approaches to celebrities and the ruthlessness of these close-ups are in sharp contrast to the retouched portraits that dominate the media images of these stars.

In 1983, Helnwein visited Andy Warhol’s studios, the Factory, and photographed the prominent artist and filmmaker for his series. The close-up focuses entirely on Andy Warhol’s serious face, and shows every wrinkle and pore of his skin.

Helnwein dispenses with all expressive gestures, poses, clothes, and image backgrounds. He positions Warhol’s face in front of a neutral black background so close that only a little of his neck is visible and the left edge of the photo even crops his head. The strong light that illuminates the sitter from the front left gives the face a strong plasticity that makes him seem close enough to touch. On the one hand the viewer has the feeling of getting closer to the self-promoter Andy Warhol than ever before, but on the other the impression of his inaccessibility, which Warhol deliberately cultivated during his lifetime, remains.

Author: Anna-Maria Drago Jekal

About the artist/s