Discussion by Jonathan Katz, co-curator of “Hide/Seek” and Chair of the Visual Studies Doctoral Program at SUNY-Buffalo.
Andy Warhol was famous for much longer than the fifteen minutes of fame that he predicted for everyone in his 1968 quote. Indeed, Warhol became so famous for being famous that his art tended to take second place to his personality. Warhol had a peculiar kind of fame: he posed himself as a blank against the aggressive celebrity culture of the 1960s. His pale features, deadpan expression, obscure utterances, and famous wig created a persona that resisted questions or connections, let alone intimacy. In his series of Camouflage Self-Portraits, each of which had a different color of camouflage pattern superimposed on the artist’s face, Warhol built on the idea that portraits are a mask. Warhol hides in plain sight, not camouflaged at all, instantly recognizable yet hidden behind the facade of his own making.
"Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" was on view at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, from October 30 through February 13, 2011.
For more on the exhibit, visit the exhibit website at: http://npg.si.edu/exhibit/hideseek .
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas, 1986 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; 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