7 February – 1 April 2002
Andy Warhol (1928–1987) was one of the most extraordinary, influential, yet enigmatic artists of his time. This major retrospective spans Warhol’s entire career, bringing together over 200 paintings, drawings and sculptures. It includes some of the great works such as the Marilyn and Disaster series, the Elvis and Jackie paintings, and the Electric Chairs, as well as lesser known early drawings and later abstract paintings.
This exhibition has been organised by the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin where it was curated by Heiner Bastian. At Tate Modern, it is curated by Donna De Salvo, Senior Curator, who has a long standing association with Warhol and his work.
Warhol pushed the Pop fascination with the imagery of mass production and consumption to an extreme. He called his studio the Factory, and in his art, came close to realising his ambition to ‘be a machine’ by adopting (in 1962) the mechanical method of photographic silkscreen printing. In doing so he invented a new kind of painting, a new way of representing reality in art, that nevertheless remained Individual and expressive. His choice of subjects tapped into the great themes of life: food, money, sex, death, power, fame, tragedy; and he had an unerring eye for iconic images that encapsulated these themes: Campbell’s Soup, Coca-Cola, dollar bills, Marilyn, Elvis, Chairman Mao, the electric chair, car crashes, Jackie Kennedy.
This powerful subject matter has often obscured his radical explorations of different artistic media. The exhibition has been organised into sections that simultaneously reveal the evolution of Warhol’s technique, his openness to all manner of subject matter and his wide ranging approach to media. Thus, while focusing on painting, sculpture and drawing, the exhibition at Tate Modern has been augmented by a selection of work including film, video, wallpaper and photography. Complementing the exhibition, there is an extensive Warhol film season at Tate Modern.
Thematic groupings emphasise the extraordinary way in which Warhol created an art of endless permutation, reinventing the same images again and again, and so uncovering a world of nuance in the everyday. Unprecedented groupings of some of Warhol’s most important works will be displayed, among them the sensational first Campbell’s Soup Cans (created before his adoption of the silkscreen process) and the Most Wanted Men series, which has not been brought together since 1964.
The exhibition at Tate Modern also features an expanded section focusing on the later, more overtly abstract work which he began making in the late 1970s and which culminated in the epic thirty-foot-long Camouflage paintings. Camouflage canvases are being shown for the first time in the UK.
Andy Warhol was born Andy Warhola in Pittsburgh in 1928 and studied pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute. In 1949 he moved to New York and became a successful commercial artist, exhibiting and winning awards for his drawings before moving in 1960 into painting. In 1968 he was shot by the feminist extremist Valerie Solanas and almost died. Although weakened he remained creatively active. He died unexpectedly following a routine gall bladder operation in 1987.
The architectural design for the exhibition was conceived in collaboration with Herzog and de Meuron. The exhibition will travel to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, from 25 May - 18 August 2002.
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