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Mao a no-show at Andy Warhol exhibition in Shanghai (PHOTOS)

Andy Warhol's famous portraits of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong have been excluded from a retrospective of the American pop artist's work, which opened in Shanghai Sunday.

A huge retrospective of American pop artist Andy Warhol’s work opened in Shanghai on Sunday, minus his famous portraits of former Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong.

The Communist leader, who ruled China from 1949 until his death in 1976, is still revered by many Chinese and it is not surprising that his face is absent from the exhibition of a famous foreign artist.

The Pittsburgh-based Andy Warhol Museum, which supplied the works, had warned the paintings of Mao would not be shown in the “15 Minutes Eternal” exhibition at Shanghai’s Power Station of Art at the request of the Chinese hosts.

Warhol museum director Eric Shiner told Agence France-Presse the decision to exclude the Mao paintings was “mutual.”

"We wanted to introduce Andy Warhol's work to China. If those paintings could be a problem in any way, we didn't want them," he said.

The exhibition, featuring more than 300 paintings, photographs, screen prints and sculptures, includes Warhol’s iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe and his famous depiction of Campbell’s Soup cans. 

The show has already been to Singapore and Hong Kong, and will later open in Beijing and Tokyo.

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