Aunt Jemima by Andy Warhol


It is cold. The building which presses upon the garret in which I merely exist is covered in ice. I look through a window into the building next door and I see a young woman seated at a table. A flimsy table. This woman annoys me. Her hair is in a bun. She eats milk pudding. A cat is on the table. Picasso was often annoyed by women, as was Henry Miller, Seurat and Muhammed Ali. Brancusi hated cats. The symbolism is obvious.

I often wish to be a black man, allowed to call women “bitches” all the time. Black women indulge such behavior. But they do not fear murder once the blood has boiled.

The ice is dull gray. The cat licks pudding from the woman’s chin. I feel disgust.

And I feel now a sudden and sweeping terror. Aunt Jemima has come to mind. Aunt Jemima is a ghastly murderess. She once stalked gaslit streets, her shadow looming upon frozen walls. She cut their throats with a piece of brown glass, man and woman alike. A photograph was made on her execution day–a daughter of Satan, smiling to the end. She died with a bandanna wrapped around her head. A century away, an advertising man finds something jolly in her image. The world is drenched in syrup. Syrup is blood, as everyone knows.

Snow continues to fall, muting all human voices. The temperature drops to torture.

Aunt Jemima, murderess — a lurid smile; a behemoth’s bosom. Thoughts of such evil overwhelm me with nausea.

I drink a bottle of alcohol.

I retch.

I perspire from the crotch.

The building freezes.

“Oh! Damn!” I cry unheard.

Andy Warhol made a portrait of Aunt Jemima. I cannot bear to look at it.

"Mammy" by Andy Warhol

Filed under Art on February 10th, 2004