Andy Warhol Jewish Show Gets 15 More Minutes of Fame in Milwaukee

Pop Artist Was Accused of Pandering With Portraits

Why a Jew? A detail from Andy Warhol’s portrait of the Marx Brothers, currently on display at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee.
Courtesy of Jewish Museum of Milwaukee
Why a Jew? A detail from Andy Warhol’s portrait of the Marx Brothers, currently on display at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee.

By Laura Hodes

Published March 13, 2014, issue of March 21, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

To create these prints, Warhol started with a source photograph, enlarged the print, and made a freehand line drawing onto the subject’s face. He then collaged fragments of colored paper onto the drawing and made silk screens of them. The effect is ironic because silk screens, a medium he frequently used, involve a photomechanical process that removes the artist’s touch. Roy Lichtenstein, another pop artist, left his images without the record of his hand so that they looked as if they were created by a machine. Warhol uses subtle benday dots in the shadows of these faces, one of Lichtenstein’s hallmarks, and a printing technique derived from pulp comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. With the benday dot, Warhol makes a connection between these self-transformative Jews and comic book superheroes.

However, with these portraits, we can also see Warhol’s human touch in his rendering of the curvy lines in Meir’s hair and in Buber’s beard. It’s as if Warhol couldn’t resist leaving a trace of himself in his subjects. The scribbled lines energize, rather than mechanize, these portraits. The effect of hanging these portraits in one room is the powerful feeling that these figures have been re-animated. The faces push up against the surface, creating an immediacy with the viewer. The riotous color and geometric shapes, and the solid presence of these weighty Jewish heads made me feel that these figures were somehow alive and about to engage in conversation. It’s a Last Supper of Genius Jews without the table and the food. For a moment, in that small room in the middle of Milwaukee, I felt as if I were surrounded by family.

Laura Hodes is a writer and an attorney living in Chicago.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.