A new exhibition exploring the Art of Andy Warhol opens it’s doors to the public on the 27th March in Southampton. It explores a wide spectrum of mediums covering all periods of the artist’s output. The 200 plus works exhibited is part of the Tate’s and the National Galleries of Scotland’s Artist Rooms series deriving from the collection generously donated to the nation by Warhol’s UK dealer, Anthony d’Offay. The exhibition spreads across two venues, The Southampton City Art Gallery and the John Hansard Gallery. As part of the exhibition an image of the actress Elizabeth Taylor will be projected onto a building in Southampton. A 1965 red portrait of the star, who died on Wednesday, will be cast at night onto the Skandia building.
Over 100 Warhols will be on show at The Southampton City Art Gallery this will be compiled of prints and posters as well as a selection of major paintings covering a range of subjects across Warhol’s career, from early works made in his Factory studio in 1962 until his death in 1987.
Certain themes recur throughout Warhol’s work, one of the most significant of which is death. This fascination intensified in 1968 when he was shot and injured by Valerie Solanas, one of his entourage. The subject is explored in this exhibition through a group of self-portraits including Self Portrait Strangulation (1978) and Self Portrait with Skull (1978), as well as Gun (1981).
The repeated image is one of the most distinctive aspects of Warhol’s work and can be seen in numerous examples throughout the exhibition, including the black and white paintings from his later Ads and Illustrations series. These works refer to Warhol’s early days working in advertising and, unusually, derive from newspaper adverts rather than photographs. Within this group of canvases there are images of Christ $9.98 (negative and positive) (1985-6), Hamburger (1985-6) and Paratrooper Boots (1985-6).
Warhol is perhaps best known for his iconic portraits. The exhibition includes a selection of screen-prints on canvas of Warhol’s fellow artists, including Joseph Beuys (1980), Robert Mapplethorpe (1983) and Gilbert & George (1975). Many more of Warhol’s portraits are illustrated within a variety of posters including Marilyn Monroe (1983), Liz (1965) and Muhammed Ali (1978), demonstrating Warhol’s fascination with celebrity as well as the influence of popular culture on his work. Warhol’s interest in consumerism is apparent across the posters on show. These feature depictions of famous brands including Brillo, Perrier, Campbell’s Soup and Absolut Vodka, as well as imagery such as The Shoe Series (1981), influenced by Warhol’s early days of drawing adverts. Many more of the posters promote Warhol’s own projects, exhibitions and films, often using his own image.
Much of the imagery in the exhibition is recognisable as part of American culture and other aspects have become iconic through Warhol depicting and reproducing them. Above all, this exhibition is a powerful reminder of the
range of the subjects Warhol explored and his immeasurable influence on popular culture today.
At the John Hansard Gallery visitors can explore rarely-seen stitched photographs and self-portraits from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, alongside iconic film works from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Capturing images and moments on film was at the heart of Andy Warhol’s approach to art – whether a celebrity portrait, a banal, everyday scene or people visiting the Factory, his infamous New York studio hangout. Many of these images became source material for now famous paintings and prints, and some remained as important works in their own right.
Warhol was a highly experimental filmmaker. One of the most famous series of works are the Screen Tests – short, filmed portraits of Warhol’s friends, colleagues and Factory visitors. Screen Tests by Dennis Hopper, Marcel Duchamp, Susan Sontag and Factory regulars Edie Sedgwick, Billy Name and Ann Buchanan are on show here. Sedgwick was the brightest of the Factory stars and she also stars here in Lupe (1965), a two screen film based on the short, tragic life of actress Lupe Vélez. In 1970, Warhol began recording life around him using portable video equipment. The resulting Factory Diaries, made between 1970 and1982, reveal the inner workings of Warhol’s world and could be seen as a precursor of today’s Reality TV.
Warhol’s focus shifted to photography in the late 1970s. He not only captured people but also scenes and objects around New York that he found curious or extraordinary. Some of these images were transformed into Stitched Photographs (1986), in which repeated prints are literally sewn together.Warhol was preoccupied with self-image and found his own appearance problematic. He produced countless self-portraits, often using a Polaroid camera. This provided an instant method by which to experiment with poses, outfits and wigs, and were often the basis for other works. To complement these, there are four photographs of Warhol by Robert Mapplethorpe on show from the ARTIST ROOMS collection. Warhol and Mapplethorpe were both key figures in New York’s avant-garde scene of the 1970s and 80s.
The lasting legacy of Warhol’s film and photography is still being felt today, leaving its mark both within television and the work of countless contemporary artists and film-makers.
ARTIST ROOMS On Tour with the Art Fund Admission Free
27 March – 26 June 2011
John Hansard Gallery ,Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton UK