It was just Presidents’ Day, one of the myriad American holidays that few actually know how to observe. In honor of this occasion, we are featuring Jimmy Carter II by Andy Warhol as our work of the week. Warhol’s is amongst the hundred photographic works that are currently on view in Light Sensitive.
Andy Warhol, Jimmy Carter II, 1977.
49 1/2 x 38 3/4 inches (125.7 x 98.4 cm)
Collection of Lawrence Wheeler and Donald Doskey
Though best known for his large screen-printed Pop art, Andy Warhol was a prolific photographer throughout his career. He collected photographic images from mass media sources which helped to inform much of his early work. Warhol almost always carried a camera—35mm or Polaroid Big Shot—and sometimes referred to it as his “date” at parties.
In 1976, the Democratic National Committee commissioned Warhol to create a portrait of Jimmy Carter for his presidential campaign, hoping Warhol’s iconic status would help them to reach a younger electorate. The resulting portrait, Jimmy Carter I, depicted a more serious, unsmiling Carter; here, Jimmy Carter II shows the newly elected president smiling for his inauguration portrait. Warhol crudely altered his Polaroid of the president with large expressive gestures, then created a silkscreen of the image. The final image uses both photography and printmaking to emulate painting.
Warhol’s portraits of Jimmy Carter were not his first commissions by the Democratic National Committee: his 1972 Vote for McGovern (pictured below), a sinister-looking screenprint of Democratic presidential hopeful McGovern’s opponent, Richard Nixon, is a part of the Nasher Museum’s permanent collection.
Andy Warhol, Vote for McGovern, 1972.
42 x 41 15/16 in. (106.7 x 106.5 cm).
Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Gift of Blake Byrne, T’57.