Written by Jocelyn Boigenzahn, Curatorial Intern
Andy Warhol was an instrumental figure in the development of Pop Art. However, Warhol turns away from contemporary culture in 1980 with an exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Paintings titled “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century.” The international array of individuals included as subjects among the group Warhol labeled his “Jewish geniuses”—Sarah Bernhardt, Louis Brandeis, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, and Gertrude Stein—represented various areas of the arts, education, entertainment, law, politics, philosophy, psychology, and science.
Warhol’s portrait of poet Gertrude Stein might appear a surprising selection to some. Yet as artists, Warhol and Stein both produced innovative works, although the pair emphasized experimentation through a fairly basic approach to their craft and with a deceptive plainness. One certainly could contend that the influence exerted by each of these individuals on those around them and those of subsequent generations is even more significant than their own noteworthy artistic accomplishments. Surely, it would be difficult to imagine modernism during the first half of the twentieth century without the presence of Gertrude Stein as it would be difficult to discuss the postmodern period of art without mentioning Andy Warhol.