Andy’s World

Andy Warhol at the Whitney Museum, NYC

Cover Image - Andy Warhol, "Self-Portrait," 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.126 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Header Image - Andy Warhol, "Big Electric Chair," 1967–68. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 54 1/8 x 73 1/4 in. (137.5 x 186.1 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.128 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

BY: Zach Wampler

What can one say about Andy Warhol that hasn’t already been said? He has inspired, infuriated, and amused critics, his peers, and artists of later generations. His work has been shown around the world, and his auction prices soar with every passing year. However, the Whitney Museum in New York has just opened a massive comprehensive retrospective of Warhol’s art. Organized by Donna De SalvoAndy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, reveals much more about the still omnipresent Pop artist.

Straddling the line between a traditional chronological curation and an argument for radical reassessment, this exhibition presents both Warhol classics and lesser-known work from before and after his supposed Pop zenith in the 1960s. Interestingly enough, the works and themes beyond Marilyn and the soup cans are actually the most captivating pieces in the show.

Most people who know Warhol know that he was fixated on death, image reproduction, fame, and consumerism, but fewer people are aware that Warhol was extremely experimental in the 1970s and ’80s. This was the time he also lost favor with critics, and De Salvo aims to reclaim these years. For example, many pieces from the 1950s are extremely homoerotic or queer in theme. Delicate drawings of a shirtless men and delicate shoes were always deemed illustrative, since he was making similar commercial work at the time, yet these private works were incredibly provocative and beautifully executed. Then in the 1970s, a series called Ladies and Gentlemen returned to themes of queerness with paintings of drag queens and trans women.

One side of Warhol that may seem surprising is that many of his works are actually quite serious and contemplative. Portraits of skulls and shadows from the 1970s may seem unremarkable on paper, but instead, they veer almost into total abstraction. And with Warhol’s factory line of reproduction, he experimented greatly with paint application and color. The oxidized “piss paintings” of the late 1970s look like Abstract-Expressionist pieces from the ‘40s and ‘50s. However, rather than splattered paint, it’s secretions of the body that creates these works. Despite the visceral qualities of their production and the austere results, it’s an innovative approach to abstraction while also a mockery of the Ab-Ex movement’s toxic masculinity.

The exhibition is sprawling, and I could write five more reviews about it, but needless to say, Warhol is much more than Pop. In this show you see that the artist had interests in not just fame and glamour and death, but also politics, the history and production of art, and queerness (especially queer sex). You may think you have seen all of Warhol, but consider visiting this retrospective for some welcome surprises.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Ethel Scull 36 Times,” 1963. Silkscreen ink and acrylic on linen, thirty-six panels: 80 × 144 in. (203.2 × 365.8 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; jointly owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; gift of Ethel Redner Scull 86.61a‒jj © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Before and After [4],” 1962. Acrylic and graphite on linen, 72 1 ⁄8 x 99 3 ⁄4 in. (183.2 x 253.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Charles Simon, 71.226 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Film still of "Ari and Mario," by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Ari and Mario,” 1966. 16mm, color, sound; 67 mins. @ 24 fps. Pictured: Ari Boulogne and Mario Montez. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.

 

Collage / drawing by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Christine Jorgensen,” 1956. Collaged metal leaf and embossed foil with ink on paper, 13 x 16 in. (32.9 x 40.7 cm). Sammlung Froehlich, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Marilyn Diptych,” 1962. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, two panels: 80 7/8 x 114 in. (205.4 x 289.6 cm) overall. Tate, London; purchase 1980 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Drawing by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Untitled (Hand in Pocket),” c. 1956. Ballpoint pen on paper, 16 3⁄4 × 13 3⁄4 in. (42.4 × 34.7 cm). Collection of Mathew Wolf © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Ladies and Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross),” 1975. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 120 x 80 in. (304.8 x 203.2 cm). Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Flowers,” 1964. Fluorescent paint and silkscreen ink on linen, 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.123 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Film still of "ST309 Edie Sedgwick," by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “ST309 Edie Sedgwick,” 1965. 16mm, b&w, silent; 4.5 min. @ 16 fps, 4 min. @ 18 fps. Pictured: Edie Sedgwick. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Mao,” 1972. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, 14 ft. 8 1⁄2 in. x 11 ft. 4 1 ⁄2 in. (4.48 x 3.47 m). The Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize and Wilson L. Mead funds, 1974.230 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Self-Portrait,” 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.126 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

 

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Big Electric Chair,” 1967–68. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 54 1/8 x 73 1/4 in. (137.5 x 186.1 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.128 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.