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 150 paintings, drawings and sculptures. It includes some of the great works such as the Marilyn and Disaster series, the Elvis and Jackie paintings, the Electric Chairs, as well as lesser known early drawings and groups of works rarely seen together, such as the Most Wanted Men. The exhibition will trace the evolution of Warhol’s style, while revealing his openness to all manner of subject matter and his willingness to explore the full range of artistic media.
A leading Pop artist, Warhol was also an icon of Pop culture in his own right, moving beyond the boundaries of fine art to become (from 1963) an innovatory film maker, and (in 1966) shaping a seminal moment of rock history with the launch of his band The Velvet Underground.
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 the iconic images that encapsulated these themes: Campbell’s Soup, Coca-Cola, dollar bills, Marilyn, Elvis, Chairman Mao, the electric chair, car crashes, Jackie Kennedy.
The exhibition will include unprecedented groupings of some of his most important works, among them the sensational first Campbell’s Soup Cans (created before his adoption of the silkscreen process). It will also feature some of the more overtly abstract work he began making in the late 1970s, which culminated in the epic thirty-foot-long canvases such as Camouflage, as well as the gaunt and sinister late self-portraits that seem to prefigure Warhol’s own premature death in 1987. A selection of his films will also be presented.
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.
This exhibition has been organised by the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin and curated by Heiner Bastian. At Tate Modern, the only other venue for the exhibition, it will be curated by Donna De Salvo, Senior Curator and a leading Warhol expert. A major symposium will take place at Tate Modern on 1 - 2 March 2002 exploring Warhol’s art and film, as well as his challenge to received notions of the artist in contemporary culture.
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