My favourite painting: Claudia Schiffer

'I remember seeing the ‘Camouflage’ series for the first time. I decided: one day, I’m going to own one of those.'

Camouflage, 1987, by Andy Warhol (1928–87), 38in by 38in, private collection. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / DACS /Artimage 2018.

Claudia Schiffer says:

‘Andy Warhol has a special place in my heart. In my first few years modelling, when I was living in Le Marais in Paris, I spent a lot of time visiting  galleries.

‘I remember being inspired by an incredible Warhol exhibition at the Pompidou and seeing the ‘Camouflage’ series for the first time. I decided: one day, I’m going to own one of those. It was the first gift I bought myself and it now hangs in our study.’

Claudia Schiffer is one of the world’s most photographed models. Her new book, Claudia Schiffer, is published by Rizzoli.

John McEwan says:

In his biography of Picasso, Sir John Richardson writes: ‘When Picasso returned to Paris [in 1914] and saw a convoy of camouflaged artillery lumber up the Boulevard Raspail, he turned to Gertrude Stein and said: “We were the ones who did that”—“we” meaning the creators of Cubism. Cubism abstracted the image by negating the traditional ways of creating an illusion of reality—perspective, modelling and foreshortening. Camouflage disguised the three-dimensional shape of objects.’

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Cubism, the modern origin of abstract art, anticipates this picture—one screenprint from a nine-part, limited-edition set—and the use of abstraction to military ends.

It hardly matters if Andy Warhol is not on the record as having mentioned Picasso’s well-known statement: that Cubism influenced camouflage is inarguable, so Warhol’s picture adds a pleasing ironic twist. It remains a perfect example by pictorial means of the philosophy of Warhol, as expressed in his highly recommendable and significantly titled book From A to B and Back Again: art to camouflage and back to art again.

In From A to B, Warhol said: ‘In some circles where very heavy people think they have very heavy brains, words like “charming” and “clever” and “pretty” are all put-downs; all the lighter things in life, which are the most important things, are put down.’ What could be more charming, pretty and witty than to turn battledress material into a pleasing abstract picture?

It is well to remember that Warhol had a considerable hinterland. On Easter Sunday 1986, the genesis year of the ‘Camouflage’ series, as a faithful Christian, he spent lunch anonymously helping serve the poor at the Episcopal Church on 90th Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

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