Fifty years ago, before he became one of the world’s most influential and polarizing artists, Warhol sparked a small controversy during the construction of the 1964 NYC World’s Fair. On the exterior of the New York State Pavilion in Queens, Warhol installed enlarged mugshots of the man pictured above and twelve others; all taken from an NYPD booklet, featuring the most wanted criminals of 1962. The piece, titled 13 Most Wanted Men was put on display in April of 1964. While it was one of the many art displays commissioned for the fair, it was deemed offensive and was covered up with sliver paint before the fair opened.
According to Art News, this un-glamorous grid of thugs and gangsters will return to Queens this month, in an exhibition hosted by The Queens Museum titled Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men and The World’s Fair. The exhibition, a mixture of art and documentary will take place yards away from the location of the original controversy.
Along with the art installation, other works of Warhol will be shown as well: samples of paintings and sculptures Warhol took part in during 1964, never before seen works from the late artist’s museum archive, and 25 portraits of Robert Moses: the “Master Builder” of the 1964 World’s Fair and the person responsible for the destruction of the original installation. The exhibition opens on April 27th, a few days after the 50th anniversary of the original’s installation.
To see how the fair turned out and how it looks now, 50 years later, check out our Then and Now Photo Gallery. If you are curious what kind of discussions took place about the future of the Pavilion, you can also see our article from earlier this year.
To know how he sat through all eight hours of Andy Warhol’s film Empire, contact the author @TatteredFedora