The first major exhibition in Ireland of the work of Andy Warhol, one of the defining figures of 20th-century art, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 20 November. Andy Warhol: After the Party -Works 1956-1986 is sponsored by ACCBank and comprises some 100 works drawn mainly from the collections of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the most comprehensive single-artist museum in the world. It includes early drawings from the 1950s as well as better-known iconic works from the 1960s and ‘70s, such as the Marilyn, Jackie, Mao and Campbell’s Soup Can paintings. Examples of Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper, Cloud Pillows, disaster paintings and a range of source material are also included; plus a series of angel and cat drawings by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola. The exhibition will be officially opened by Ms Sile de Valera, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands at 6.00pm on Wednesday 19 November.
The exhibition explores Warhol’s work at a number of levels, providing an opportunity to see both his apparently uncritical celebration of the mass culture image as a commodity and his simultaneous subversion of that celebration. A constant, though often unacknowledged, refrain of death, culminating in the memento mori images towards the end of his life, is the core theme of the exhibition. The Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Declan McGonagle, says ‘It is interesting how new readings of Warhol’s work and influence are beginning to develop. Warhol was not just a chronicler of consumer culture. It is increasingly clear that, as a late 20th-century artist using contemporary language, media and forms, he was exploring ideas of life and death which have always formed the basis of great art. This exhibition both asks people and gives them the opportunity to look at Warhol differently by representing his total practice as an artist’.
In the context of this full retrospective, the Museum will also present a series of Gun paintings, which were made in 1982-83. The series was shown at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London earlier this year, their first showing as a group in over a decade. In these images, ‘so beautiful, so desirable’; Warhol evokes the appeal of the gun as a commodity and a cinematic prop and draws on American mass culture to create a powerful symbol of life and death. This repetitive, intense exploration of a single image represents a powerful coda to the main exhibition. The Irish Museum of Modern Art is grateful to the d’Offay Gallery for lending the works for this element of the overall project.
Born in Pittsburg in 1928 to East European parents, Andy Warhol moved to New York in 1949, where he became one of American’s leading commercial artists. By the early 1960s he had turned his attention to the field of fine art and was exhibiting his Pop paintings and sculpture – including Heinz Boxes, Marilyns and Campbell’s Soup Cans – in New York and Los Angeles. At this time he was already making images about death and disaster, which remain among his most critically-acclaimed series. Despite a near fatal shooting in 1968, Warhol continued to be enormously prolific. During the 1970s and ‘80s though widely known for his celebrity portraits, he also made some of his most ambitious and greatest paintings during this period, including Skull 1976, After the Party 1979, and Last Supper, made in the year of his death 1986.
Over the course of a 30-year-long career, Andy Warhol transformed contemporary art. The power of his work comes from its concentration on fundamental human themes – the beauty and glamour of youth and fame, material culture and the passing of time, and the presence of death. Employing mass-production techniques, Warhol challenged preconceived notions about the nature of art and erased traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture.
On Friday 21 November Mark Francis, Chief Curator of the Andy Warhol Museum, will discuss the work of Andy Warhol, his influence and the issues surrounding the setting up of the Warhol Musuem, in conversation with Declan McGonagle, Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, at 1.00pm at the Walton Theatre, Trinity College Dublin. The talk is presented in association with the History of Art Department, TCD. Booking is essential – please contact the Irish Musuem of Modern Art at tel: 01-612 9900;
fax: 01-612 9999.
Andy Warhol: After the Party – 1958-1986 continues at the Irish Museum of Modern Art until 22 March 1998.
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