Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger first met in 1963, when the lead singer of the Rolling Stones met the artist at a party during the band's tour. Warhol was known to be very social and a frequent partier, as was Jagger. This would set to tone for their personal and professional relationship. The two worked together for the first time on the album art for the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers in 1971. Jagger approached Warhol to design the cover for the upcoming album. The cover art for Sticky Fingers features a closeup of the crotch of a man wearing a tight fitting pair of pants. Warhol's fascination with the human body and the Stones' sex and rock n' roll image fit perfectly together and the two creators agreed to collaborate again.
This kicked off the beginning of a productive and collaborative relationship between the two artists. A few years later in 1975, Warhol printed a portfolio of ten screenprint portraits of Mick Jagger. Each one captures the singer in various expressions and poses, showcasing Jagger's famous looks and bad boy persona. The portraits feature blocks of opaque color sometimes covering parts of Jagger's face, as well as a sketched line quality to them, all hallmarks of Warhol's distinct art style. Warhol at this time was already obsessed with the idea of fame and celebrity. The Rolling Stones were hugely popular and touring around the world by this point, making Jagger a perfect subject for Warhol's artistic exploration.
In the summer of 1975, Jagger and his wife Bianca rented Warhol's Long Island home and stayed with the artist for a period of time. The three hung out together and it was during this time that Warhol shot his first photographs of Jagger, attempting to capture the man's illustrious personality. Warhol said of Jagger: "He’s androgynous enough for almost anyone. That’s always been his basic appeal, mixed with the facts that: 1 – He’s very talented; 2 – He’s very intelligent; 3 – He’s very handsome; 4 – He’s very adorable.”
Jagger also greatly admired Warhol, stating after his death: “The thing that he seemed to be able to do was to capture society, whatever part of it he wanted to portray, pretty accurately. That’s one of the things artists do, is show people later on what it was like.” The two artists held a mutual respect and love for each other that was clear to see. Both had magnetic personalities and incredible creative vision. Today, we get to enjoy the artistic fruits of their relationship through Polaroids and screenprint portraits.
Introduction to Andy Warhol’s Beethoven Series, 1987
Ludwig Van Beethoven is one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. At a young age, he moved to Vienna and gained a reputation as a master pianist. His many compositions range from symphonies to piano concertos to string quarters. However, towards his late 20s, he began to lose his hearing which would result in deafness towards the end of his life. Surprisingly, many of his best loved compositions were produced at the end of his life when he was completely deaf.
Andy Warhol Screen Prints of the Beethoven Series, 1987
Andy Warhol created this series of 4 screen prints in 1987, shortly before his death. This series is unique as it departs from the celebrities and grocery items for which Warhol became known for. The source image was taken from an 1820 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler. In the original oil on canvas, the composer is stares ahead with focused eyes as he writes another composition. This portrait is the most iconic image of Beethoven, deliberately chosen by Warhol for that reason. The Beethoven 1987 series captures the defining characteristics of the composer by placing a sheet of music over his portrait. The melody that is imprinted onto the page is Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14, better known as the Moonlight Sonata. Yet, the music notes are subtly colored, as not to overshadow Beethoven. In each screenprint, the intensity of the composer’s gaze is emphasized by the colors of his face. The background of the image is black, creating the impression of a man emerging from darkness. By rendering the composer with such dramatic colors, Warhol transforms the classical composer into a modern rock star.