Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century (Golda Meir)

In this once controversial series, Andy Warhol depicts ten prominent Jews of the 20th century using his signature silkscreening technique.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century depicts luminaries of modern Jewish culture: Sarah Bernhardt, Louis Brandeis, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, and Gertrude Stein. Warhol referred to these great thinkers, politicians, performers, and writers as his “Jewish geniuses.” He depicts them in his signature pop-art fashion, splashed with neon colors, overlapped with geometric shapes, and outlined, as if drawn with crayon.

The idea for the series came from art dealer Ronald Feldman, who together with Susan Morgenstein, director of the art gallery of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, came up with the list of names. The series was warmly received by Jewish audiences, despite negative reviews from art critics who considered them exploitative. Hilton Kramer of The New York Times wrote, “The way it exploits its Jewish subjects without showing the slightest grasp of their significance is offensive — or would be, anyway, if the artist had not already treated so many non-Jewish subjects in the same tawdry manner.”

With a bit of hindsight it is easier to appreciate these prints as classic examples of Warhol’s preoccupation with fame and his blurring of boundaries between high art and mass culture and commerce.

  • Louis Brandeis

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Albert Einstein

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Sigmund Freud

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • George Gershwin

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Marx Brothers

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Sarah Bernhardt

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Franz Kafka

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Gertrude Stein

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Martin Buber

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

  • Golda Meir

    Andy Warhol

    From “Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century”
    United States, 1980
    Silkscreen

Andy Warhol - Screenprinting

Andy Warhol working in The Factory

Francesco Clemente assists Andy Warhol in creating a screenprint

Name: Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century (Golda Meir)
Artist: Andy Warhol
Location:
Origin: United States, 1980
Medium: colored inks on white paper, Silkscreen
Dimensions: 39 15/16 x 32 in.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ruttenberg
Catalog Number: 86.36j
External ResourceJewish Museum Milwaukee takes new look at Andy Warhol's 'geniuses'

Mary Louise Schumacher, Journal Sentinel, Jan. 11, 2014