WOW – Work Of the Week – Andy Warhol “Louis Brandeis”

10 Potraits Of Jews - Louis Brandeis

Louis Brandeis, from 10 Portraits Of Jews Of The 20th Century
Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board
40 x 32 in.
Artist’s Proof (A.P.) of 30

Pencil signed and numbered lower left

About This Work:

In 1980 Andy Warhol produced a suite called Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century. This series appeared at the Jewish Museum that year for the first time.
The idea for this series came from the art dealer Ronald Feldman, after an Israeli dealer asked for a series of portraits of Golda Meir.

To create this portfolio, Warhol followed his usual procedure for portraits, silk-screening a photograph over previously applied colors and tracing crayon-like lines over the photograph’s contours. The underlying vivid colors are broken up into flat, geometric compositions, creating a mild tension between abstraction and photographic representation.

The ten subjects of the series were more than just celebrities. They were all people of great accomplishment. But the real subject in this portraits is Fame. Warhol was obsessed with the concepts of fame and publicity and he was interested in famous people because they were famous. What the series reflects is the distinctively modern experience of knowing many famous people but rarely knowing in any depth what they are famous for. For example, lots of people know the name Gertrude Stein, but how many have actually read anything she wrote?

The Ten Portraits Of Jews Of The 20th Century are renowned luminaries of Jewish culture. They are:

  • Franz Kafka (1883-1924): the eminent novelist.
  • Gertrude Stein (1874-1946): the avant-garde American writer, poet and playwright.
  • Martin Buber (1878-1965): a renowned philosopher and educator.
  • Albert Einstein (1897-1955): the theoretical physicist, widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the twentieth century.
  • Louis Brandeis (1856-1941): the first Jewish judge of the United States Supreme Court.
  • George Gershwin (1898-1937): the distinguished American composer.
  • Marx Brothers Chico (1887-1961), Groucho (1890-1977), and Harpo (1888-1964): the famous vaudeville, stage and film comedians.
  • Golda Meir (1898-1978): Israel’s fourth Prime Minister and one of the founders of the State of Israel.
  • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): the hugely influential founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology.
  • Sarah Bernhardt (1844 – 1923): the renowned stage and film actress.

The collective achievements of this group changed the course of the twentieth century and may be said to have influenced every aspect of human experience.

About Louis Brandeis:

Louis Brandeis was an American lawyer. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents.
He attended Harvard Law School, graduating at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the law school’s history. Brandeis settled in Boston, where he founded a law firm that is still in practice today as Nutter McClennen & Fish, and became a recognized lawyer through his work on progressive social causes.

He was the first jewish lawyer to enter the Supreme Court and his work has been fundamental in building some of the most important legal concept of all times, such us the right to privacy, the freedom of speech and the regulation of big corporations and monopolies. Being heavily socially involved and sincerely willing to help people, he used to work for free a lot of times and for this reason he eventually gained the name of “People’s Lawyer”.

10 portraits of jews

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