Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962. Image via Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; © 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the visual Arts, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), N.Y.
Some personalities are just too big for our pages. Of all the art and literature that we have on Andy Warhol, much of it is largely dominated by his persona and in the way we see him; he is his art.
Warhol moved to New York in 1949 to work in illustration and advertising, and quickly began producing some of the most astute commentary on postwar American consumerist society, collapsing some of the perceived barriers between counterculture and high art. In a way, both Warhol and his art embodied the American dream; from early childhood, he dreamed of being other people (as Truman Capote said, “Andy Warhol wanted to be anyone but Andy Warhol”), and his work created some of our social consciousness’s most recognizable pictures of American prosperity, fame, and aspiration.
But you might say that the genius of Warhol’s work actually suffered from being so recognizable; so recognizable that we don’t realize how much there is to uncover. The new Andy Warhol retrospective, which is coming to the Whitney in November 2018, aims to get underneath this common perception and explore the sheer breadth and depth of Warhol’s incredibly prolific career—the art behind the Campbell soup cans and the Marilyn Monroe prints.
“I’ve always felt there was so much attention given to the persona of Warhol that we had trouble looking at the work—and that’s what this exhibition does,” curator Donna De Salvo told ArtNet. The exhibit will cover a wide range of Warhol’s work, from his commercial art of the fifties to his more experimental work of the seventies. Donna De Salvo also pointed out that most of his later work is not exhibited in depth in the United States, other than at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh.
This exhibition will be the largest solo exhibition at the Whitney’s Meatpacking District location to date, as well as the city’s first comprehensive Warhol retrospective in nearly 30 years. The last one, which took place at the MoMA from February to May of 1989, just two years after Warhol’s death, also covered a broad range of his work, including work that had never been shown to the public before.