Visual Analysis Beethoven

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The piece that I have selected is Beethoven, by Andy Warhol (2013.58.3). Andy Warhol’s Beethoven is a very Meta piece of art; that is, a piece of art which comments on the state of art itself. The painting draws on a famous portrait of legendary classical music composer Ludwig van Beethoven, but makes some significant changes that alter the meaning of the painting completely. The painting takes the original portrait and adds several elements, including bright colors, superimposed musical notes, and various lines. The addition of these elements allows Warhol to express his views on fine art in general. He questions what it is to be an artist and create works of art that are perceived by many to be masterpieces, by showing a man universally recognized…show more content…
Warhol appropriates “high art” in two ways in this painting. He makes a statement about the music and compositions of Beethoven by desecrating a classical portrait, effectively questioning both the mediums of painting and music in one work. Perhaps the first thing a viewer notices about this painting is the deep saturated blue of Beethoven’s skin. This is obviously not Beethoven’s natural skin color, so perhaps Warhol is portraying Beethoven’s deteriorating mental and physical state, as this color is often affiliated with depression. This blue is starkly contrasted with the red of Beethoven’s scarf, which is located over his chest, and represents the artist’s fiery passion for his work. These two colors, combined with the white of Beethoven’s shirt form a red, white, and blue color palette, which is likely representative of the United States of America, Warhol’s country of birth. Pop art often mimics advertisements, and the use of the American flag in advertisements is quite common. The pink and blue outlines of Beethoven’s figure are reminiscent of bright, flashing, neon signs that are ubiquitous in urban areas. The use of advertisement-like features is a staple in pop art, and in doing so, Warhol is making a statement about the irony of art. His placement of these features next to an idol of classical music challenges the viewer to consider his perceptions on what is high art. The music notes that appear across the painting are representative of the creation of original art. The notes’ being hand-written appears to give the music more personality and serves to show how hard Beethoven worked and how tirelessly he slaved for his craft. With the juxtaposition of the music notes on top of Warhol’s depiction of red, white, and blue neon Beethoven, the artist makes a statement about the fame of an artist compared to his art. Beethoven is brightly colored and is the

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