Exhibit pays tribute to Warhol's lasting legacy
Andy Warhol may be one of Pittsburgh's favorite native sons, but a newly opened exhibit at The Andy Warhol Museum proves that his influence extended, and continues to extend, far beyond this city, and even beyond New York City, his adopted home.
Titled “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years,” the exhibit explores, to the fullest extent, the influence Warhol (1928-87) has had on generations of artistic descendents through the display of nearly 50 pieces by Warhol himself, arranged alongside major works by 60 other artists. Many of which, like Alex Katz, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, are well-known and widely influential in their own right.
Assembled by independent curator Mark Rosenthal and Marla Prather, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where this show originated last year, the exhibit was originally structured in five thematic sections: “Daily News,” “Portraiture,” “Queer Studies,” “Consuming Images” and “No Boundaries.”
Here, it has been copiously augmented with objects from the Warhol's permanent collection, such as some of Warhol's source material and personal possessions (even his own shoes!) in addition to loans from private collectors. This gives this iteration of the exhibit an entirely different feel than the one at the Met, says the Warhol's director Eric Shiner.
“The show in New York was a very different experience than what we have here in Pittsburgh,” Shiner says. “We've made completely new comparisons and juxtapositions.
“We've, more or less, constructed the over-arching idea of his categories that he was putting everything into,” Shiner says. “So, the exhibition in New York tended to be very much subject-based, and all in the same place. We've deconstructed that notion and put things back together again to create new stories and new narratives, which I think is very exciting. And we've been able to spread the show out over the entire museum.”
As iconic as he was in life, since his death at 58 in 1987, Warhol has become legend and his art the bellwether of the art-auction market. So, it is only natural that he would inspire legions of imitators. Case in point: the Warhol's last large exhibit “Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After” featured nothing but work by an artist whose main focus is imitating Warhol.
Visitors will find Kass' painting “Double Ghost Yentl (My Elvis)” (1997) in the “Portraiture” section alongside Warhol's “Triple Elvis” from 1963, along with another portrait of Elvis Presley by Pop artist and Warhol's friend Keith Haring (1958-90).
Another Warhol work on display here that wasn't included in the previous exhibit at the Met is the painting “A Boy for Meg” from 1962, which was on display last month at the Warhol in the exhibition “Warhol: Headlines.” It is tastefully arranged among several works in the “Daily News” section, such as Vija Celmins' 1965 painting “Time Magazine Cover” and Kruger's reconstructed magazine covers “Esquire, May 1992” and “Newsweek, June 8, 1992.”
At the Met, Warhol's floating Mylar balloons were set aloft in front of a backdrop of hot-pink-and-chartreuse Elsie the Cow wallpaper (another Warhol creation) in the “No Boundaries” section. Here, the room that is permanently filled with Warhol's “Silver Clouds” (1966) is augmented with a video installation by Cory Arcangel adapted for this exhibit from his “Super Mario Clouds v2k3” (2003), which was on display as recently as last month in the Carnegie Museum of Art's Forum Gallery.
Shiner says that even though this exhibit was two-and-a-half years in the making, it started with a simple premise: “Warhol presents his Campbell Soup can paintings in 1962, and, all of a sudden, he becomes the most talked about artist working in America, right out of the chute. And artists responded to it almost immediately. And, of course, as his influence and impact grows, he gets bigger and bigger, and contemporary artists are constantly looking to him for ideas.
“Whether they're celebrating him, using tricks that he was successful with, or completely critiquing him, and going the exact opposite direction; of course, we can safely say today that a lot of this wouldn't exist if Warhol hadn't done what he did when he did it, just to open up the floodgates. He was the first one to push those doors open.”
Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.