Rock On: Mick Jagger

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Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger 142, 1975
Rock On

One of the ten portraits Warhol made of Mick Jagger, 142 shows the rock icon laughing unlike the other nine renditions. Often with pop stars, their stage personality is mistaken with their personal identity. This is especially true with the Stones’ “bad boy” status and their disreputable actions on and off stage. In 1975 The Rolling Stones were in the height of their popularity and Mick Jagger had become a common household name in the U.S. and in the U.K. This print, done that same year, continues Warhol’s series of celebrity portraits; a fascination in public figures like Marilyn Monroe to Mao Zedong saturates most of Warhol’s portfolio. But in actuality, it was the Stones who approached Warhol asking for cover art for their album, “Sticky Fingers.” They were looking for a simple and grabbing image in Warhol’s sensational style to which he delivered. The scandalous picture Warhol produced soon became perhaps the Stones’ most recognizable cover art. This contract began the two subversive icons’ friendship which lasted until Warhol’s death in 1987.

With this print, I feel it is a closer look at the human being Jagger and not the chicken-dancing persona that he took up on stage. Warhol’s screen printing technique begins with a snapshot—a frozen moment of humor that is then pulled away and simplified. This abstraction of Jagger’s face in executed in a way that fundamentally breaks it down to an exaggerated state divided in blocks of color. The yellow rectangle resembles a post-it-note as if Warhol is jotting down only the essential aspects of Jagger’s physique. Overall, there is an experimental and loving feel to this piece in trying to capture Warhol’s friend in a piece of art.

This series of blogs aims to discuss various paintings by or of famous classic rock musicians and inspect the correlation between the figures and the art involving them.

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