Although Andy Warhol had made portraits of a number of celebrated women by 1972, Kimiko Powers was one of the first commissioned portraits the artist completed. John Powers, Kimiko’s husband, had been guided toward collecting Pop art by the publisher Harry N. Abrams. In a 2001 interview with Bob Monk, she later recalled that, during her husband’s early collecting days, he visited Warhol’s studio with Abrams before the artist was well-known. There he was impressed to see that Warhol was working without an assistant and he decided to commission the artist to make a portrait of his wife. Remembering Warhol’s visit to their apartment to take Polaroids in preparation for the commission, Kimiko recalled how they selected the photograph to be used for the portrait:
“And he said to me ‘Turn your face up. Turn your face to the side. Oh, it’s beauti… oh gee that’s great.’ He took Polaroids, one after another. Afterwards when we were finished, he put them all over the floor and asked, ‘Which one do you like?’ I said, ‘You’re the artist, you decide.’ But then I saw some that I didn’t like, so I said, ‘Andy I don’t think those are very nice. So please don’t use them.’”
Warhol and the couple became good friends, and the Powers visited the artist at the Factory and joined him for dinner regularly while they lived in New York. Warhol went on to make several portraits of Kimiko—reacting in one case to his friend’s new haircut by insisting she have a new portrait made.