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Mao Tse-tung on who art should serve and who should make it

Our literary and art workers must gradually move their feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and soldiers, to the side of the proletariat, through the process of going into their very midst and into the thick of practical struggles and through the process of studying Marxism and society. Only in this way can we have a literature and art that are truly for the workers, peasants and soldiers, a truly proletarian literature and art.1

1 Mao Tse-tung, "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" (May 1942), in Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, ed., Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tse-tung (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1967), p. 213.

Mao Tse-tung's belief in the significance of art as a form of education

No revolutionary writer or artist can do any meaningful work unless he is closely linked with the masses, gives expression to their thoughts and feelings and serves them as a loyal spokesman. Only by speaking for the masses can he educate them and only by being their pupil can he be their teacher. 1

1 Mao Tse-tung, "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" (May 1942), in Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, ed., Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tse-tung (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1967), pp. 219-220.

Warhol on who art should serve and his status as an artist

I don't think art should be only for the select few, I think it should be for the mass of American people and they usually accept art anyway…. I'm not the High Priest of Pop Art, that is Popular art, I'm just one of the workers in it.1

1Gretchen Berg, "Andy Warhol: My True Story," The East Village Other (1 November 1966), reprinted in Kenneth Goldsmith, ed., I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004), p. 90.

Warhol's attitude toward learning from art

I always had this philosophy of: "It really doesn't matter." It's an Eastern philosophy more than Western. It's too hard to think about things. I think people should think less anyway. I'm not trying to educate people to see things or feel things in my paintings; there's no form of education in them at all. 1

1 Gretchen Berg, "Andy Warhol: My True Story," The East Village Other (1 November 1966), reprinted in Kenneth Goldsmith, ed., I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2004), p. 90.

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Andy Warhol (1928-1987) - Mao, ca. (1973) Andy Warhol (1928-1987) - Mao, ca. (1973) Medium graphite with finger smuding on paper. Private Collection

This drawing is based on an iconic propaganda photo of Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) that was widely reproduced in China after 1945, while Mao was Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. By contributing to the proliferation of this image, Warhol seems to further the dictator's Communist efforts. Yet by rendering Mao, enemy of individualism, in a flamboyantly personal style, he defies basic Communist values.