Thursday, 4 August 2011

I love Mr Warhol and I'm not ashamed to say it

Last Saturday morning began with me taking myself off (on the fabulous new Metrolink line) from Chorlton to The Lowry at Salford Quays to see the ‘Warhol & The Diva’ exhibition running until September.

I’d just like to make it clear that I, in no uncertain terms, love Andy Warhol, I am completely 100% biased in this post, and unashamedly so.

It’s hard to pinpoint the time that I first became interested in Warhol’s work, having been introduced to art by the standards such as Da Vinci and Turner (both of whom I am still in awe of). I became vaguely aware of him through my teenage years, and, the more I learnt, the more I loved. From his oddly introverted manner (which I have tried desperately to affect at various points throughout my life) to his relationships with people who I class as my 20th century heroes; John Lennon, Yoko Ono, David Bowie and Lou Reed to name but a few. My love for Andy Warhol was meant to be, it always just seemed to fit.

Even now in 2011 at the age of 28, some 24 years after Warhol’s untimely death, I find myself day dreaming, in my quieter moments, about visiting The Factory (Warhol’s sprawling New York studio) and hanging out with Andy, Edie Sedgwick et al. Or frequenting Studio 54 in the 1970’s, a real hanger on, trying to get my very own 15 minutes.

So it was with relish I skipped off to enjoy my solo morning, having learnt early in our relationship that the hubster and art galleries don’t mix. Ok, I’m doing hubster a disservice, he is more than willing to take me along to galleries (he even took me to one on our first date, although I suspect an ulterior motive there), it is more that my expectations of him are far too high. I expect him to say something deeply profound and moving about the art work, or just to shut up! No way was I taking him to an exhibition of my dear love Andy Warhol only to hear “I don’t get it”, “that’s not art” or, worst of all, “Are we going soon?”

There is a fabulous flow to the setup of this exhibition space. ‘Warhol & The Diva’ sits in the middle of the permanent Lowry displays in the gallery. The exhibition organisers seem to have purposefully played on the clear juxtaposition between the two worlds of Lowry and Warhol. As you walk through the portrait works of LS Lowry, beautifully drawn and painted but subtle and low-key in colouration, you are suddenly met with a lurid screen print of Elizabeth Taylor against a black wall upon which is the quote from Warhol; “It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor's finger”. And just like that, you’re in another world.
Liza Minnelli, 1977
Collection of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

I’m not in the business of writing exhibition critiques or reviews so I will leave it there urging any Warhol fans to see this exhibition. However you have experienced Warhol’s work, however familiar the screen prints and soup cans are, this exhibition brings something new and (almost) unexpected, and will leave you viewing the man himself in a different and fabulous light.

Image provided by the Lowry: Debbie Harry Screen print on arches aquarelle paper 101.6 x 52.4 cm 1980 1998.1.2596 | Debbie Harry ca. 1980 Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2011.