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!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • 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.