Escher in The Palace is currently showing a special selection of ten portraits by Andy Warhol. This iconic American Pop Art artist shared his love for graphic arts with M.C. Escher. The screen printing technique that Warhol often chose, gave him the opportunity to make his work in editions, so that his art was available to as many people as possible. Escher also chose printmaking for the same reason: accessibility is of great importance to both artists. In addition, the work of both artists is characterised by principles such as reflection and repetition.
In the main hall, you are welcomed by Warhol’s series of four queens: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland (now: Kingdom of Eswatini) and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. These brightly coloured portraits form the series Reigning Queens (1985), as these women were the only reigning queens on earth at that time.
Warhol created different versions of his portraits by varying backgrounds, graphic shapes and colour fields. In his hands, the Reigning Queens acquire a combination of allure and glamour. Warhol used existing photographs to create these series of screen prints. For example, the photo that was taken in 1977 on the occasion of her silver jubilee is the basis for the portrait of Queen Elizabeth. The official state photo that Max Koot took after the inauguration in 1980 is the source of the portrait of Queen Beatrix. The portrait of Beatrix is also extra special for the museum, due to its relation to Palace Lange Voorhout. The former queen knows this palace well: it has been her working palace for a long time, so she spent a lot of time here.
Whereas Warhol’s series of Campbell’s soup cans and Brillo boxes turned the everyday into art, Warhol often chose famous people for his portraits. On the first floor, six portraits of famous women can be found: here, the faces of the superstars Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Jane Fonda and Ingrid Bergman are looking at you. Big names from Hollywood history who were already world-famous when Warhol made them even more iconic with his visual ingenuity. The same applies to his portraits of the legendary first lady Jackie Kennedy and the Japanese art collector Kimiko Powers. With her husband John, the latter assembled one of the most extensive collections of Pop Art in private hands.
Warhol was mesmerised by celebrity and, due to his status as a world-famous artist, also moved around in those circles. The artist, who started his career in advertising, became a brand himself. A man who, with his bright colours, his choice of materials and subjects and his hyper-stylisation, created a recognisable style that made him the standard-bearer of the Pop art movement.