Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years

A new international museum show at The MOMA explores the various key facets of Andy Warhol’s life and art. It’s structured in five thematic sections as explained below:

Daily News: From Banality to Disaster
This section explores Andy Warhol's engagement with the imagery of everyday life, his interest in items of consumerist American culture in the 1960s, and his keen attention to advertising, tabloids, and magazines. It also examines the connection to later artists who also appropriate objects from the supermarket or the department store or share Warhol's fascination with disaster or death, including Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and Ai Wei Wei.

Portraiture: Celebrity and Power
This segment looks at the artist's engagement with portraiture to illuminate contemporary artists' continuing interest in the issues of fame or infamy in the age of the tabloid. Here the best of Warhol's notable portraits of celebrities are paired with contemporary examples by Elizabeth Peyton, Karen Kilimnik, and Cindy Sherman. Andy Warhol's practice of society portraiture of the 1970s, as well as his artistic engagement with political figures, is explored here through links with the work of artists who take this practice in new directions.

Queer Studies: Shifting Identities
Another major category of works looks to outline Andy Warhol's importance as an artist who broke new ground in representing issues of sexuality and gender in the post-war period. This section also strives to represent a new openness toward different varieties of queer identity that his oeuvre ushered in, largely through work by photographers such as Richard Avedon, Peter Hujar, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Catherine Opie.

Consuming Images: Appropriation, Abstraction, and Seriality
It explores the legendary artist's formal strategies and groundbreaking use of pre-existing photographic sources, often endlessly repeated in grid patterns; his appropriation of art history; and his interest in abstraction.  These works are grouped with Pictures Generation artists such as Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman for their uses of appropriation, or with contemporary painters such as Christopher Wool, whose patterned painting Untitled plays with all-over abstraction and seriality in Warholian ways.
No Boundaries: Business, Collaboration, and Spectacle
The last and defining division examines Warhol's interest in artistic partnership through filmmaking, magazine publishing, music, and design. Also foregrounded is his fascination with creating environments that envelop the viewer entirely. Warhol's frequent use of decorative motifs, such as flowers, are part of this practice, and are contrasted with similar work by artists such as Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami.

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