“The image is one thing and the human being is another. It's very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.” —Elvis Presley

Fame can transform ordinary subjects into icons or superficial facades: from Mao Zedong to Lassie, this transformation is a product of cultural fascination. In the 20th century, the elevation of celebrities and the rapid circulation of their images - a.k.a. the "cult of celebrity" - inspired a consideration of the powers of popular culture and a curiosity to know these figures. For example, Andy Warhol's silkscreen process enabled a speed of image production that rivaled that of the tabloids but elevated celebrities to the status of painterly subjects. While some artists honored the glamour and heroism associated with celebrity, others exposed its darker side: a loss of individuality and a dehumanizing objectification by the media.

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