Political pictorial satire

This week we noticed New York artist Deborah Kass‘s satirical  political print ‘Vote Hillary’ which, like the Andy Warhol work it references, belongs to a long tradition of political pictorial satire in the US.

Andy Warhol and Kenneth Tyler collaborated on the iconic 1972 ‘Vote McGovern’ screenprint at Gemini GEL to campaign for the Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern against Richard Nixon.

The following excerpt from Workshop: The Kenneth Tyler Collection reveals the story behind Warhol’s print:

The idea for Vote McGovern had its origins in an earlier poster made by Ben Shahn, an artist who Warhol greatly admired. In 1964 Shahn had designed a poster in support of the Democratic presidential candidate Lyndon Baines Johnson. For this work, over the caption ‘Vote Johnson’ Shahn had sketched a cartoon-like face of Republican candidate Barry Goldwater with large spectacles and a toothy grin. For his own foray into politics, Warhol took a photographic image of Richard Nixon, which had appeared as the cover for Newsweek on 27 January 1969. For this 16-colour screenprint, Warhol gave his Republican candidate a hideous green face with yellow lips and a blue five o’clock shadow (something the politician was noted for in comparison with the photogenic John Kennedy). Underneath he placed the caption calling to vote for Democratic candidate McGovern. It was this foray into the political world that Warhol subsequently blamed for the constant scrutiny of his taxes by the Inland Revenue Service.[i]

[i] Jane Kinsman Workshop: The Kenneth Tyler Collection, National Gallery of Australia, 2015, p.255.

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