Andy Warhol

Before and After, 4
1962

On view
Floor 7

Date
1962

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Acrylic and graphite pencil on linen

Dimensions
Overall: 72 1/8 × 99 3/4in. (183.2 × 253.4 cm)

Accession number
71.226

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from Charles Simon

Rights and reproductions
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Audio

  • Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again, Access

    Audio description: Before and After [4], 1962

    Audio description: Before and After [4], 1962

    0:00

    Narrator: This painting by Andy Warhol is entitled Before and After [4], and was created in 1962. It is a large linen canvas, measuring eight and a half feet wide by six feet tall—about the size of a king mattress. Warhol made the work using acrylic paint and graphite pencil. The only colors are a soft, light gray that makes up the background, and a dark, solid black used to depict the forms. As a result of stark contrast between the two colors, the work looks like a print or a lithograph. In fact, Warhol based it on plastic surgeon’s ad in the back of the National Enquirer.

    As the title suggests, the image is divided into two halves: a before, and an after. Each half contains the same woman’s face in profile, looking towards the left side of the canvas. In both images, black lines denote her features—a single eye and eyebrow, her mouth, and her nose. Her eyelashes curl upward perfectly, as if covered in mascara; the eyebrows are shaped into skinny arches; and the lips are plump and shiny, as they would be when lipstick is applied.

    The only difference between the two panels is the size of the woman’s nose. In the panel on the left, the woman’s nose is large, curved, and long. In the right-hand panel, the nose is small, dainty, and slightly upturned. Looking at these panels, Warhol’s title becomes much clearer. These are the before and after images of a nose job. 

  • America Is Hard to See

    Andy Warhol, Before and After, 4, 1962

    Andy Warhol, Before and After, 4, 1962

    0:00

    Donna De Salvo: I’m Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

    This is a work by Andy Warhol called Before and After, 4. It was made in 1962. It’s one of a series of works that Warhol made, which are based on an image for nose surgery that appeared in The National Enquirer.

    Warhol, we know, actually had surgery on his nose in the late 1950s, and was also very self-conscious about his own appearance. On another level, this work really speaks to the fundamental notion of American assimilation. Warhol understood the power of consumption, and how we fit in by consuming. And to the extent that one can even think about buying a new nose.

    Narrator: The way Warhol painted this work dovetails with its subject.  

    Donna De Salvo: He wanted to achieve what he said was an art that could be “noncommittal and anonymous.” And if one looks at this work, the evidence of the hand is extremely limited. Of course we know Warhol, by ’62, became someone who used photography, and used silkscreen to make his paintings, and moved away from this kind of hand-painted image.

    So the combination of the kind of anonymity one might see, or the fitting in that this kind of nose change could imply is certainly in keeping with the actual removal of the hand that Warhol pursued in the making of these pictures.  




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