Magazine article Artforum International

"Le Grand Monde D' Andy Warhol": GALERIES NATIONALES DU GRAND PALAIS

Magazine article Artforum International

"Le Grand Monde D' Andy Warhol": GALERIES NATIONALES DU GRAND PALAIS

Article excerpt

With an ingenuous but almost untranslatable title, "Le Grand Monde d'Andy Warhol" expands on two floors of the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris. (Translated by the museum as "Warhol's Wide World," the English title fails to capture the double entendre of "high society" that the phrase "grand monde" entails.) Comprising more than four hundred paintings, photographs, Polaroids, films, and other documents, this vast exhibition brings together the largest number of Warhol portraits ever shown. Portraits of living subjects, almost always commissioned, are seen in the wider context of three other genres: posthumous portraits of figures from the world of cinema (e.g., the "Marilyn" series of 1962, Judy Garland, ca. 1979, or Hitchcock, 1983); portraits of celebrities executed from media sources (e.g., Jackie, 1964, Four Marions, 1966, or the seldom seen Brigitte Bardot diptych, 1974, derived from a Richard Avedon photograph); and portraits of iconic historical or religious figures, such as Mao, 1973 (of which Warhol produced almost innumerable versions) and the monumental Last Supper (Christ 112 Times), Yellow, 1986, which closes the exhibition.

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Curated by Alain Cueff in collaboration with Emilia Philippot, the exhibition concentrates on the first category, portraits of the living--mostly executed after Polaroids taken by Warhol himself facing his sitter at often dauntingly close range. These photo sessions could take hours, sometimes days. Starting with Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963, and ending with the rather touching triple portrait of Sean Lennon, 1985-86, the show provides a rare opportunity to look in-depth and afresh at this unfathomable aspect of Warhol's activities. Notoriously executed for money (at prices of $25,000 each or $40,000 for a pair, from the '70s on) and largely ignored by the art-historical world, they constitute, according to Cueff, an indispensable component of and key to understanding Warhol's "wide world." The professional milieux of the sitters fall into broad categories, from the entertainment business to the worlds of industry and art, the last of which bound the subjects to the artist and, ultimately, to one another. …

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