Whether you only know Andy Warhol for his iconic soup cans and colorful celebrity portraits or you have an intimate knowledge of his extensive portfolio, the new exhibit, Andy Warhol-From A to B and Back Again, at the Whitney Museum is sure to show you something new. Exclamations of discovery over items that people had never seen before were frequently overhead at a press preview of the exhibit earlier this week. This exhibit features over 350 pieces of Warhol’s art that span the entirety of his four decade career, and it is the first retrospective produced in the United States since 1989. From A to B serves as sweeping primer for those new to Warhol, and a satisfyingly comprehensive retrospective for the well-versed aficionado.
The exhibition is broken up into three parts spanning three different levels of the museum. The majority of the exhibition is housed on the fifth floor where works created by Warhol starting from his time as a commercial illustrator on Madison Avenue in the 1950s up until his death in 1987 take up the entire floor. On the third floor you will find more of Warhol’s prints along with a row of television sets screening a selection of his experimental works from the 1960s through the 1980s. The museum will run an accompanying film program that will screen Warhol’s films in their original 16mm format. The films in the program are curated by themes like Commercial/Commodity, Hollywood Stars/Hollywood Types, and Queer Performativity. The first floor gallery contains three walls covered floor to ceiling in commissioned portraits created by Warhol between 1968 to 1987. Commissioned portraits made up Warhol’s largest body of work.
Third floor of the exhibit
The first floor portrait gallery
From A to B curator Donna De Salvo, who worked with Warhol on a 1986 exhibit at Dia:Beacon, stated at the press preview, “You can get Warhol in a quick moment, but if you dig deep you will be rewarded.” That statement certainly rings true in relation to this exhibit. You can breeze through and hit the highlights, the Marilyn Diptych, a wall of Campbell’s soup cans, a room of Flower paintings, and it would be a fulfilling experience, but there are so many pieces to discover, it is worth taking your time. Interspersed among the giant canvases and colorful collages are video screens showing loops of Warhol films, a sculpture made of mylar rolls, early sketches, a row on Warhol’s Interview magazines, items from Warhol’s 1973 Time Capsule series, and more treasures to be seen.
Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962
Flower Series, 1964
Andy Warhol, as noted by the museum’s Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam D. Weinberg, is “an artist of his time, our time and of all time.” The themes of celebrity and fame, news versus history, and capitalism and government that Warhol examined in his work are as relevant today as they have ever been. His work, especially in portraiture, can be seen as a precursor to the social media age where now everyone gets more than just fifteen minutes of fame.
Andy Warhol-From A to B and back again opens Monday, November 12th and will be on view until March 31st, 2019. Entry to the exhibit is by timed tickets which can be purchased in advance on the museum’s website. Some time slots for opening day are already sold out, so reserve your spot now!
See more pictures from Untapped Cities’ visit to the exhibit below:
Warhol’s Most Wanted which was commissioned for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens