Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

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Audio description: Before and After [4], 1962

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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. 

A drawing of a side profile of a woman before and after a nose surgery.

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. 


Andy Warhol, Before and After [4], 1962. Acrylic and graphite on linen, 72 1/8 x 99 3/4 in. (183.2 x 253.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Charles Simon 71.226. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York