I went to the Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again Portraits exhibit at the Whitney last week.
The exhibit is the largest US retrospective of his work to date, more than 350 works of art across all media.
I didn’t realize that commissioned portraits were such a big part of Warhol’s body of work. It was a career-long interest for him and many of these portraits are on display in this exhibit.
Warhol’s early career was dedicated to commercial and advertising art, where his first commission had been to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in the late 1940s. The exhibit starts with his foundational work as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s.
Andy Warhol’s first New York solo pop art exhibition was hosted at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery November 6–24, 1962. The exhibit included the works Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills. It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, Campbells Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles.
It was really fun to see these images we are all so familiar with!
Compared to the success and scandal of Warhol’s work in the 1960s, the 1970s were a much quieter decade, as he became more entrepreneurial. Warhol devoted much of his time to rounding up new, rich patrons for portrait commissions—
Warhol groomed a group of bohemian and counterculture eccentrics for his famous “Factory” in New York City. He designated them superstars including Edie Sedgwick, Ultra Violet, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling. They all participated in the Factory films, and some remained friends with Warhol until his death. There are a lot of videos of the “Factory” period in the Whitney exhibit that are fab.
Warhol had a re-emergence of critical and financial success in the 1980s, partially due to his affiliation and friendships with a number of younger artists who were dominating the art market of 1980’s New York: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, David Salle and other so-called Neo-Expressionists.
I HIGHLY recommend seeing the Warhol exhibit. It is at the Whitney through March 31, 2019. What I show on the blog is a tiny sample of what is on display. The B/W movies filmed at the ‘Factory’ are fascinating and there is a movie loop that runs in a small theatre on the 5th floor with members of the Factory just staring into the camera. GO SEE IT!
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