Friday, August 13, 2021

Andy Warhol

 August 2021 - Toronto ON

We went to the Andy Warhol exihbit at the AGO Art Gallery of Ontario this week.

Click here for the Tate Modern video on the exhibit.

A 20th-century icon at the centre of Pop Art, Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1928. Shy, gay and from a working-class, East European immigrant background, Warhol had a unique understanding of American culture and society. Engaging topics such as consumerism, canonical art history, the artist’s Catholic faith and the activities of New York City’s countercultural underground, Warhol’s vast body of work, which includes film and publishing, both reflected and fueled the intense cultural transformations that occurred across the globe in the second half of the twentieth century.

Self-Portrait (1966) was constructed in what would become one of Warhol’s signature styles—a grid of bright, repeated silkscreened portraits. An expert colorist, Warhol paired primary and secondary colors as well as different shades of the same color.

When asked why he chose to paint Campbell’s soup cans, Warhol offered a deadpan reply: “I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”

Warhol based this composition on a small advertisement for a plastic surgeon that ran in the National Enquirer in early April 1961, which he had enlarged and projected in order to trace it onto the surface of the canvas—a precursor to the silkscreen technique he pioneered the following year.

Warhol created this work after the Air France Flight 007 accident in which 129 (later 130 after one died of injuries) people aboard were killed with only 2 (initially 3) survivors. The Atlanta Art Association had sponsored a month-long tour of the art treasures of Europe, and 106 of the passengers were art patrons heading home to Atlanta on this charter flight. The tour group included many of Atlanta's cultural and civic leaders. Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. went to Orly to inspect the crash site where so many important Atlantans perished. The work is a memorial to those who died.

Ethel Scull 36 Times 1963 painting was Warhol's first commissioned work.
n early 1963 Robert Scull asked Warhol to paint a portrait of his wife after the style of the Marilyn Diptych and Warhol's other depictions of Marilyn Monroe. Warhol took Ethel Scull to a Times Square photo booth and prompted her to take 300 black and white photographs of herself. Warhol told her jokes in an effort to make her photographs more candid. One hand-colored photo-strip from the session is in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The Marilyn Diptych (1962) is a silkscreen painting depicting Marilyn Monroe.
The monumental work is one of the artist's most noted of the movie star.

The painting consists of 50 images. Each image of the actress is taken from the single publicity photograph from the film Niagara (1953). The underlying publicity photograph that Warhol used as a basis for his many paintings and prints of Marilyn, and the Marilyn Diptych, was owned and distributed by her movie studio. Marilyn Diptych was completed just weeks after Marilyn Monroe's death in August 1962.

Silk-screening was the technique used to create this painting. The twenty-five images on the left are painted in color, the right side is black and white.

Elizabeth Taylor

According to Warhol, the inspiration for the cow image came from art dealer Ivan Karp:
Another time he said, "Why don't you paint some cows, they're so wonderfully pastoral and such a durable image in the history of the arts." (Ivan talked like this.) I don't know how "pastoral" he expected me to make them, but when he saw the huge cow heads — bright pink on a bright yellow background — that I was going to have made into rolls of wallpaper, he was shocked. But after a moment he exploded with: "They're super-pastoral! They're ridiculous! They're blazingly bright and vulgar!" I mean, he loved those cows and for my next show we papered all the walls in the gallery with them.

On June 3, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and AGO chief curator, at Warhol's studio, The Factory. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She authored in 1967 the SCUM Manifesto, a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men; and appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced.

Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol's life and art.

In the late 1950s, as the record industry began to expand at an extraordinary rate, Warhol was hired by both Columbia and RCA Records on a freelance basis to create album covers and promotional content and, from there, carried the skill throughout his career.

Photographs personally taken by the man himself, Andy Warhol depicts a series of transvestites in Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975. Provocative, ambiguous, and direct, this series marks his departure from portraiture based on appropriated images.

The 1970s represented the height of Studio 54 as the United States entered a more liberal mindset. During this time, the homosexual and drag community began boldly embracing their sexuality. This atmosphere inspired Warhol to create a series of 10 screenprints titled Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975. The idea for the series originally came from art dealer Luciano Anselmino. Under Warhol’s direction, Bob Colacello, editor of Interview magazine, recruited several black and Hispanic drag queens from the The Gilded Grape in Greenwich village. Warhol was undeniably fascinated by these performers who represented self-fashioned personas in a glamorous, exhibitionist manner. This series was first exhibited in Italy at the Palazzo di Diamente.

Among the models Warhol held in such poisoned esteem—promising them fame while disowning them of their own image—were revolutionary greats from the 1969 Stonewall uprising such as Marsha P. Johnson. Their misrecognition as “anonymous” models reveals the extent of Warhol’s ignorance. This touches one of the sore spots of the Stonewall historical narrative: for decades, its representation and analyses failed to name the ethnicity of the insurgents and thus rendered them invisible. With this misrepresentation, the white queer community deprived figures such as Marsha P. Johnson of an adequate recognition for their historical contribution to gay liberation. 

Interview is an American magazine founded in late 1969 by artist Andy Warhol and British journalist John Wilcock. The magazine, nicknamed "The Crystal Ball of Pop", features interviews with celebrities, artists, musicians, and creative thinkers. Interviews were usually unedited or edited in the eccentric fashion of Warhol's books and The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.

A couple of Canadians, Wayne Gretzy and Karen Kain.


  1. Lucky you. I would love to see this exhibit.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  2. I've seen that Scull photo strip at the Getty. I've seen several of his soup cans, but never the Beef Noodle one. I don't remember who I got it from,, but I was given a poster of that Interview magazine. Believe it or not, I didn't appreciate the significance and cut it up and used some of the famous people in my altered book pages. A raw and unfiltered look at Warhol and I appreciate it.

  3. What a man.
    Ingo could paint bread. I make him brekkie and lunch for every working day: bread.
    Oh. I sure hate flying.
    Jokes are a great idea.
    Marilyn from this artist even made it to one of our hospitals. Warhol sure will never be forgotten.
    Great tribute you wrote.

  4. We had a Warhol exhibition here a couple of years that was very good, but I think your is better still.

  5. I've seen a couple of Andy Warhol's, but how fun to have a whole gallery of his work! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Wow...amazing exhibit...I scanned it quickly for now, but will come back and look more closely later! Thanks so much for bringing it to my home for me!

  7. Such an informative and interesting post. I learned a lot .. thanks for sharing this Jackie

  8. Well done.Really enjoyed the narrative after seeing the exhibit.

  9. I have to admit, I just don't get him.


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