“Before I was shot I always suspected I was watching TV instead of living life. Right when I was being shot, and ever since, I knew that I was watching television.’
Andy Warhol, 1968
It’s argued that no artist living in the second half of the 20th century made a deeper impression on popular culture than Andy Warhol. I was once lucky enough to find myself in Chicago at the same time as a major exhibition of Warhol’s work back in the 1990s, and I’d argue any chance to see his art is one worth taking.
40 years on from Warhol’s first major exhibition in Europe, and his infamous shooting by Valerie Solanas, The Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank is presenting a major exhibition that brings a fresh perspective to his work, Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms, which runs until 18 January 2009.
Comics and pop art have a long and storied relationship and, along with other interests, Warhol was of course no stranger to the comics form: he made his first comic strip painting, Dick Tracy in 1960 and his version of the Batman logo is perhaps a well known pop culture piece. He took his early material from comic strips and advertisements which he found in tabloids like The National Inquirer and The Daily News. It’s argued by some that he relegated himself to soup cans as a subject back in 1962 to avoid competing with the more finished style of comics by Roy Lichtenstein.
The exhibition has been constructed to immerse visitors in Warhol’s way of thinking and working through a multi-media installation which has transformed the gallery. Paintings and prints of famous icons including Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans are being displayed alongside video, TV programmes, films, Polaroid photos, delicate drawings, album covers and wallpaper patterns. This vivid presentation is intended to reflect Warhol’s egalitarian maxim, ‘all is pretty’; with all media presented on the same level.
Warhol was fascinated with film and television and the exhibition explores the relationship between the moving image and the still image in his work. It brings together films, screen tests, videos, and TV programmes, which combined with extraordinary archive material, seminal paintings and installations, illuminates his creative process, sheds new light on his work and explores his genius for discerning the way pop culture penetrates our lives.
Curated by independent curator, Eva Meyer-Hermann, and housed in an extraordinary setting by the Berlin designers, chezweitz & roseapple, the exhibition is organised by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Curator at The Hayward, has collaborated on this presentation of the exhibition.
(The cartoon presented here by Malcolm Kirk has absolutely no connection with the exhibtion but we think it’s great fun and I’d like to think Warhol would appreciate the subversion…)