Making the ordinary extraordinary: How Warhol’s approach to pop culture is STILL influencing the art world todayPreview of the exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum detailing career of the Pop Art icon
13:11 GMT, 11 September 2012
Bright colors and famous stars helped Andy Warhol make his name in the art world but a new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum shows how the artist had a more nuanced impact over the past half century.
The exhibit, titled Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, opens next week and intersperses Warhol’s work with pieces by other artists like Damien Hirst and Cindy Sherman who counted the blond pop artist as a key influencer of their style.
Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, First Lady Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor are all highlighted in the show – titled Regarding Warhol – alongside the everyday objects that he helped turn into pop art.
The man behind the myth: Andy Warhol's work is being exhibited at The Met starting next week
Given Warhol’s interest in the mass consumerism that was overtook American society in the late 1960s and 1970s, it comes as no surprise that his iconic picture of an oversized can of Campbell’s Beef Noodle Soup is granted the same reverence as the Hollywood stars that Warhol immortalized in bright hues.
Warhol’s interest in fame and celebrity as well as media culture in general prompted him to re-examine mundane, everyday objects and approach them on an artistic scale similar to that of the Hollywood stars and political figures that were generally accepted as worthy of great art.
Objects of Andy's affection: The artist paid a great deal of attention to all aspects of popular culture, whether it was everyday items like Brillo pads (left) or screen sirens like Marilyn Monroe (right)
Fittingly, his most famous statue is
that of a Brillo pad, showing that because Warhol took his eccentric
touch to the commonplace object, he was able to elevate it to a higher
creative point than would have been expected in years prior.
pained (objects) in a very hard-edged, straight forward way that also
made people uncomfortable and confused because there seemed to be
nothing expressive about his painting except for his choice of subject
matter,’ curator Mark Rosenthal says in the gallery’s audio tour.
Modern interpretations: Cindy Sherman (left) and Chuck Close (right) feature in the exhibition as they are among the contemporary artists to take a lead from Warhol's ideas
Beauty in the mundane: The work of contemporary artists like Damien Hirst are also highlighted in the exhibit as it examines how Warhol influenced artists who came after him
In keeping with the practice of
highlighting the beauty in the mundane, the piece of British artist
Damien Hirst’s work that showcased in the exhibit is a reconstructed
medicine cabinet that was once displayed in Pharmacy, the popular
Notting Hill restaurant of which he was a co-owner before it closed in
Big anniversary: The exhibit is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of this Campbells soup painting
Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and
Gerhard Richter are some of the other living artists whose work is
portrayed alongside the work of Warhol, who died in 1987.
Rather than the living and the dead, the starkest contrast in the exhibit is that between the everyday items that Warhol raised up to a higher level of value with his work- for instance his revisited version of a foot treatment for calluses- with the portraits he made of the world’s biggest stars.
His oft-copied portraits of Jackie, Marilyn and Chairman Mao are instant attractions for even the most superficial of art aficionados. Portraits of Elvis, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor completed on lighter backgrounds with silver and grey paints are less glaring than the bright pinks and blues used in the bolder portraits, but they still provide a great homage to the stars of the silver screen.
‘Warhol adored celebrities. He was always chasing after this kind of person,’ Mr Rosenthal said.
he elevated the Brillo pad and the 19-cent can of Campbells, Warhol was
able to elevate a whole new class of celebrities through his art by
allowing them to buy into the idea that if they had their portrait done
by Warhol, they would solidify their own fleeting fame.
‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ type people were coming to Warhol
starting in the 70s which of course was a way for them to join the likes
of Marilyn,’ Mr Rosenthal explained.
clearest example comes from Warhol’s painting entitled American Man, a
portrait of insurance executive Watson Powell who was one of the
earliest commissioned sittings that Warhol completed.
Famous faces: While much of the exhibit looks at his work regarding everyday objects, his famous portraits of former first lady Jackie Kennedy are also included
Given that he was the one to predict that ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’, it comes as no surprise that Warhol had a hand in creating lasting legacies for those who would have otherwise been forgotten.
For a man obsessed with the famous and the act of becoming it, the celebration of Warhol’s art on the 50th anniversary of his 32 Campbells Soup Cans painting shows that his name and work has clearly extended past his 15 minutes and shows no signs of stopping.