A Pop Legend's 15 Minutes of Fame Live on; the Art World Continues Its Fascination with the Genius of Andy Warhol, Who Would Have Turned 75 Last Month

By Silberman, Vanessa | Art Business News, September 2003 | Go to article overview

A Pop Legend's 15 Minutes of Fame Live on; the Art World Continues Its Fascination with the Genius of Andy Warhol, Who Would Have Turned 75 Last Month


Silberman, Vanessa, Art Business News


Back in 1960, when the Pop Art king predicted that everyone would have their 15 minutes of fame, he was mistaken in one regard--the duration and influence of his own celebrity persona, which has carried on long after his death. Indeed, Andy Warhol, who would have turned 75 last month, is one of the 20th-century's most influential artists, having earned a cult-like status over the last four decades for his Pop Art aesthetic. Taking images from popular culture--Campbell's Soup cans, comic book heroes, advertisements and portraits of celebrities and politicians--Warhol transformed these everyday objects and images into some of the most recognizable icons of the past century.

"Andy Warhol changed the way we see the world around us," said Marc Glimcher of Las Vegas' Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which is currently hosting the exhibit, "Andy Warhol: The Celebrity Portraits,"through Sept. 7. "From his visual style of brilliant colors and repeated images to his fascination with the public's love of celebrity, Warhol defined the spirit of our times."

Warhol on View

The Warhol exhibit at the Bellagio is but one of a few museum shows currently on view that celebrate the Pop master. Also in Las Vegas, at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum through Nov. 2, is "American Pop Icons," an exhibit that features 28 works by eight Pop art masters--Warhol, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann.

Meanwhile, back in his hometown, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., is presenting a season-long series of events, programs and special exhibitions under the banner "Summer of Andy" to celebrate his 75th birthday, which was August 6. Among them are two photography exhibitions featuring many of Warhol's favorite celebrities and icons including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Bette Davis. Also on view, through Oct.5, is "The American Supermarket," a reconstruction of the 1964 installation which places plastic foods side-by-side with "real" artwork--paintings, prints, etc., in a supermarket setting, making an ironic comment on commodification, consumption and American identity. Originally conceived and implemented by artist Ben Birillo, the installation features work by Warhol and other Pop artists like Lichtenstein and Wesselmann.

Also on tap at the Warhol Museum is "Warhol and Jackie: Crafting the End of Camelot," which runs Nov. 22 through March 21, 2004. After the assassination of JFK, Warhol produced hundreds of small images of Jackie as the grieving widow. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of JFK's death, the exhibit will feature more than 20 works of art, dozens of historical artifacts, archival records, popular memorabilia and large-scale photographic reproductions.

Back in Las Vegas, the Bellagio's "Andy Warhol: The Celebrity Portraits" features more than 50 paintings and works on paper, with an audio guide narrated by Liza Minnelli, a close friend of Warhol's, who called him "the eyes and ears of a generation."

The main focus of the exhibit is Warhol's obsession with fame and celebrities. The critic Robert Hughes once said Warhol was "a conduit for a sort of collective American state of mind in which celebrity--the famous image of a person, the famous brand name--had completely replaced both sacredness and solidity."

Among the works on view are celebrity portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger, Deborah Harry, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Jackson. The paintings are on loan from the New York collection of Jose Mugrabi, one of the largest personal collections of Warhol's work. In addition to the paintings, the exhibition features one of the last complete sets of the famed 1967 Marilyn Monroe screen-print portfolio.

Also on view at the Bellagio are some of Warhol's personal objects on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum, including the artists signature wig and eyeglasses, a tape recorder and a Polaroid camera used to take some of his most famous celebrity portraits. …

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