Factory Master

Two exhibitions in Purchase show a deeper side of Andy Warhol.



Warhol, Andy
Mao 1972-1974
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
82 x 61 inches
The Andy Warhol Museum
c. 2008 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

 

Warhol, Andy
Dolly Parton  1985
Polacolor ER
3 ≤ x 2 7/8 inches (image)
Collection Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art
Purchase College, State University of New York
Gift from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

You may think you know all there is to know about Andy Warhol: the Campbell’s Soup cans, the Marilyn Monroe silkscreens, Edie Sedgwick, and the other Factory mainstays. Once you visit the Neuberger Museum of Art’s concurrent exhibitions—titled Andy Warhol: Pop Politics and Andy Warhol: Snapshots—you might find that there is more to the pop artist than you’d suspected.

“Andy Warhol is often talked about as if he has no explicit content,” says Thom Collins, the museum’s director. “He’s known for his riffs on American commodity culture, and he plays with the idea of celebrity, but mostly he’s talked about as being very superficial. They say you don’t see any of his interests, his concerns, or himself in his work. These two exhibitions tell a new story about Warhol and attempt to reintroduce him as more substantive than was previously thought.”

Take, for instance, some of the work featured in Pop Politics. Sure, many of Warhol’s most iconic images are among the 60-some paintings, photos, drawings, and videos displayed in the exhibition, including one of the famous portraits of Chairman Mao. But so are works from his series of African queens, as well as a print of a Birmingham race riot. “It’s some surprising stuff,” says Collins. “He was not sloganeering. He was not overt about his politics. In a way, he was almost ecumenical. He painted presidents from both major U.S. parties.”

In the Snapshots exhibition, the approximately 100 photos on display—which were donated to the Neuberger by the "Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts"—show an artistic range that Warhol isn’t always given credit for. “They go from Polaroids and very casual studies to very polished, formal artistic shots,” says Collins, whose personal favorite is a snapshot of singer Dolly Parton. “Her persona is total artificiality, and you can see her wig is slightly askew. The photo really tells us who she is: you can see her background, her class struggle, what it means to be a woman in a certain industry in a certain time—all in that photo, and I think that’s what great portraits do.”

So there you have it: the artist you already thought to be a genius turns out to be even more talented than you imagined. Ready to take a second look? Andy Warhol: Pop Politics and Andy Warhol: Snapshots both open on February 15.

Warhol, Andy
Vote McGovern 1972
Screenprint on Arches 88 paper
42 x 42 inches; Edition of 250
The Andy Warhol Museum
c. 2008 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York

 

Warhol, Andy
Queen Elizabeth II from
Reigning Queens
1985
From portfolio of 16 screenprints on Lenox Museum Board
39 x 31 inches; AP 6/10
The Andy Warhol Museum
c. 2008 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York
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