United States of America 1928 – 1987



United States of America born 1970


Mao 1972 Description: a portfolio of ten screenprints
Place made: New York, New York, United States of America
Materials & Technique: prints, stencil a portfolio of ten colour screenprints
Impression: 162/250
Edition: edition of 250, plus 50 artist's proofs
Primary Insc: each print is signed, verso, lower left, in ball point pen 'Andy Warhol'

Dimensions: sheet (each) 91.6 h x 91.6 w cm
Cat Raisonné: [Book] [Catalogue raisonné] Feldman, Frayda & Defendi, Claudia. 1997. Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné. 11.90-99, pp. 78-79
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1973
Accession No: NGA 73.279.1-10
Image rights: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS. Licensed by Viscopy


  • Always keen for new subject matter, developments in American foreign policy presented Warhol with a new celebrity. In 1972 President Nixon made his first official trip to China — a country that had been unrecognised by many in the West ever since the Communist Revolution of 1949. There Nixon met the Chinese Communist leader, Chairman Mao Zedong, heralding a new era of diplomacy. This event and the figure of Mao provided a new icon for the artist – someone who was recognisable to millions, and therefore a sure money spinner. This was a serious consideration for an artist always keen to become richer.

    Warhol took his image of Mao from the cover of the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, produced in millions of copies. He created multiple versions of Mao screenprinted onto canvas of various sizes, which became increasingly painterly. This gestural quality was also evident in the 1972 print version of ten works that feature hand-drawn marks around the head of Mao and unevenly inked colours.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra