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Photography: A World to Warhol

Christopher Makos, foreword by Ai Weiwei

Andy Warhol in China: The Photographs of Christopher Makos (Timezone 8, 2008)

In 1982, before it was hip, fashionable, or barely possible, Andy Warhol tripped off to China with young photographer Christopher Makos, who documented the fabulous but anonymous Andy in Mao land. Now Timezone 8 Books, based in Beijing but available at, has published—just in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics—a look back at Andy in silky black-and-white, on hiatus from The Factory, The Chelsea Girls and his post-Valerie Solanas woes.

The pictures show Warhol as both a fish out of water and a prophet and harbinger of things to come. Even back then, he was quipping that though McDonalds had not yet arrived, it would: “Oh but they will!”, and of course it did. The photos have tremendous relevance as archival documents and the quotes are, well, priceless. The Warhol of China, artist Ai Weiwei, wrote the foreword to the book, and Andy’s voice still haunts through pithy quotes, including his perception of the Great Wall: “It doesn’t look like a wall, it looks like a rollercoaster without the roller”, his thoughts on Chinese culture (“I like this better than our culture. It’s simpler. I love all the blue clothes. Everyone wearing blue. I like to wear the same thing every day. If I were a dress designer I’d design one dress over and over”), and his reaction to the large portrait of Mao hanging over Tiananmen Square: “Gee, it’s big. Yeah, I painted Mao about four hundred times. I used to see how many I could do in a day. I love his book. I read it all the time. I like the simple thoughts.


Ellen Pearlman


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2008

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