A major Andy Warhol exhibition has opened at Holyrood, home to the Scottish Parliament. This is a first for any Parliament, merging art and politics as a theme. More than forty Warhol works of art exploring power and politics are on view . The exhibition is a result of a collaboration between the Scottish Parliament, the Carnegie UK Trust and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
The show includes Warhol’s ‘Flash – November 22, 1963’ screen prints about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his portrait of Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the exhibition has been carefully selected for display at the Parliament and many of the works are being shown in Scotland for the first time.
The exhibition is being held at Holyrood from Saturday 5 October – Sunday 3 November, to coincide with the ‘Andrew Carnegie International Legacy: Shaping the Future’ activities taking place at the Scottish Parliament.
One of the highlights from the Andy Warhol: Pop, Power and Politics exhibition is the Andy Warhol Self Portrait illustrated above. Made nine months before his death in February 1987, the artist’s face appears disembodied by the dark background and is partly hidden by the use of a military inspired camouflage pattern. The artist directed the Polaroid photo-shoot by Benjamin Liu which produced the source photographs.
In contrast to his reputation as a party-going artist and voyeur of society, Warhol revealed little of his private self to the public. The use of camouflage appears in a number of late works where it seems to delineate the influence of images as symbols in a fame-orientated culture while simultaneously disguising meaning or personality.
Matt Wrbican, chief archivist at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, said: “The Warhol is thrilled to share many truly exceptional works from our collection with the Scottish Parliament and the Carnegie UK Trust.
“The items represent the full scope of Andy Warhol’s life and art. This exhibition features Warhol paintings, sculptures, and prints from our permanent collection and allows visitors to the stunning parliament building to have the opportunity to see many top-rate original Warhols.
“In addition, we’re pleased to once again unite Pittsburgh and Scotland through the very rare display of Warhol’s Andrew Carnegie portrait.”
The public reaction to the self-portraits, upon their exhibition at the Anthony D’Offay Gallery in London, was to perceive them as evidence of the aging artist’s looming mortality. Although not public knowledge at the time, Warhol was struggling with pain from the gall bladder infection that would cause his death.
Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said: “It gives me real pleasure to open this exhibition of iconic images, depicting politicians and political events from across the globe.
“It is important to me that the Scottish Parliament hosts exhibitions that encourage people to discuss and explore political issues, and few artists can get people talking like Warhol does.”
Image: Self-Portrait, 1986 Andy Warhol acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen © The Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh
Andy Warhol: Pop, Power and Politics runs from 5 October to 3 November 2013.