Uncovering America, one image at a time

Travis Diehl, Art Basel, March 24, 2021

To appropriate the appropriator is one way to see what they omit. Deborah Kass’s ‘Warhol Project’ series (1992–2000) rephrases the pop artist’s best-known works, from Triple Elvis (1963) to Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962), with different models. In several works, Kass (b. 1952) swapped Jackie Kennedy, an emblem of housewifely Wasp perfection, for camp icon Barbra Streisand, her famous nose in profile; author Gertrude Stein is a reoccurring figure as well. In others, she appears herself. Kass’s series rephrases Warhol’s portrayals of stereotypical American celebrity to celebrate the contributions of queer and Jewish artists to the country's cultural heritage. Kass also reprised Warhol’s ‘Most Wanted’ silkscreens, his comment on the thin line between notoriety and celebrity, but with a series of contemporary artists, curators, and critics (on view in Chicago gallery Kavi Gupta’s Viewing Room) – wanted not for their crimes but their networks.

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