“Andy actually thought the real Mao portrait was better than his, and really loved the original,” says Makos. “We were all fascinated with [it].” “Gee, it’s big,” Warhol said himself at the time. “Yeah, I painted Mao about 400 times. I used to see how many I could do in a day.”
It is this notion of replication and uniformity that makes the concept of Warhol in China resonate. “It was a Warholian experience,” Makos later reflected on the trip. “Here’s the guy that, you know, did the Campbell’s soup can – he was all about the multiplicity of things, and here was a whole lifestyle based on that idea.
“I loved the sense of isolation, especially in a fashion sense,” Makos says now. “It was just a sea of these people, all in crisp navy-blue suits. They looked so chic. To me, the new group that was experimenting with Western-style dress just looked so un-cool. Because they were so isolated, they really had no sense of how to dress, so it was intuitive. Sometimes a hit, most of the time a miss.”
It is a sentiment echoed by Warhol, who even had a copy of Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known as the Little Red Book. “I love his book,” Warhol said. “I read it all the time. I like the simple thoughts.
“I like this better than our culture. It’s simpler,” he continued. “I love all the blue clothes. Everyone wearing blue. I like to wear the same thing every day. If I were a dress designer I’d design one dress over and over.” (Ironically, Warhol wore the same outfit every day while in China, even sleeping in his clothes. But for hygiene rather than aesthetic reasons – he complained that the Peking Hotel, where he and Makos were staying, was full of cockroaches.)
But why overthink this shit, it’s not like I am getting paid for any of it. My mental well being demands there be a scapegoat, and the messenger is always the most obvious target. Plus, as all prep school bullies will acknowledge, sexually ambiguous, wig wearing and bespectacled skinny nerds make easy targets. Dus waarom moeilijk doen als het makkelijk kan?
I blame Warhol for #short-coat-over-suit.