Andy Warhol, Warhol Museum, New York discussed on All of It
Well, I am concerned with the noises that are coming from the Justice department may decide not to share information with congress. That would be a terrible double standard house until chair says he could subpoena the special counsel, if congress doesn't get to see the underlying evidence. But we know about the report this afternoon on all things considered from. NPR news. Weekdays starting at four on WNYC. You're listening to WNYC. Welcome back Campbell Soup cans sculptures, made a brillo boxes and even the Rolling Stones Tom logo. Make no mistake. Andy Warhol is one of the most recognizable artists of the twentieth. Century made art that even non patrons of the art world and countered on a regular basis and yet hard as it is to believe Warhol has not had a full career retrospective in the US and more than three decades. But that all changed last November with the opening of Andy Warhol from a to b and back again a monumental exhibit at the Whitney it runs through this Sunday, March thirty first before moving on to Chicago, and San Francisco the exhibit was curated by the Whitney's, Donald salvo. We spoke to her back in November the week the show opened here's our conversation. What were your goals in incubating? It was really an attempt to bring some clarity. I think to an artist is so profuse made so much work that in a way it's almost impossible in certain way to grab. Apple with it all, but also sort of situate, the work and its development over the course of were career and see his experiences as a commercial illustrator when he first comes to New York as well, as you know, how Warhol is really grappling with the fundamental problems of of of art making and that's often lost in so much of the discussion that has happened during Warhol's era when he was alive and even after he died as just the man with the funny wig who went to a of parties, and he's so much more than that. He was so prolific in deciding what would be in this exhibit. How'd you make your choices? And how did you decide to organize it? Sure. Well, I think first of all I decided that the best thing was to do it largely chronologically because it's the way to track in a sense, the development of Warhol's thinking, his ideas, and there are certain key works that you just can't imagine a Warhol retrospective. Without the thirty two. Campbell's soup cans from the museum of modern. Art or the Marilyn diptych from the Tate or nine Jackie's from the Whitney's collection. So they're just sort of key works, and I'd done a show years ago on the fifties called successes a job in New York at the gray or gallery that was of the commercial work. So he knew a lot of that work, the hardest thing, of course, is there so much really really great work. And you know, I had certain feelings about certain works that just do certain things and so had to be very judicious in making those decisions about either. Introducing a new idea a new paradigm shift or that show, how Warhol engages with color, and then re engages with and also painting hand painting and a lot of that you see in the early days of the sixty s but then again in the seventies and eighties and Warhol's career had fallen off. And then throw on top of that film, photography video publishing television. It's it's tough. Tough. But it's one of the challenges that you live for sure I'm sure I want to talk about a couple of of the pieces that I didn't know that. Well, and I think a really interesting, ladies and gentlemen, from nineteen seventy five it's one of his his portraits where we don't know the we don't know the identities. They're anonymous for a reason we tell people about them. Sure. So he was approached by a dealer in Italy to do a series of portraits of the term would be used then of of drag Queen or trans people, and he he did not want. The superstars of the of the factory candy, darling. He didn't want them. And so we're home win on a search with his friend Bob cola cello to find a sitters. And he went to a New York club called the Gilbert grape where there are a lot of drag performers, and they were each asked to pose for they didn't know they were posing for Warhol. They got paid a very little amount of money like fifty dollars and Warhol made Polaroid's of them, which we then translated into photographs. Now, it's interesting because when he showed them they were called, ladies and gentlemen, and they're very there are very few paintings were hall. Also features people of color, and so in are showing them and others. I think of followed have done even earlier than us. We've actually included the names because we know who they are. They signed the Polaroid's and one of them in particular is Marsha p Johnson who was a very leading figure the gay rights movement very involved with stonewall villa Meena Ross who had a band. So it's interesting times have changed. Luckily, luckily, and I think we're sensitized to, you know, saying, well, they're not just anonymous individuals, and it's part of the complexity of Warhol in the different circles in which he moved in those didn't move within their also introduced color in an amazing way. And there's a great essay and the catalogue by the artist Glenn ligon who really talks about that. Who speaks from the perspective as an African American man, an artist of colored and color, and really you see were home with these exuberant colors, and the poses are kind of amazing to see these individuals who were performers and full of life in these. Portrait's so it's an incredible series. And there are hundreds of them. We only have a small selection, but we have a one that's really large scale. That's fantastic. There's also his first ever public artwork most wanted man. Yeah. Most wanted men when was it created and what four well he made it for the New York state pavilion of the world's fair. So Philip Johnson the architect designed the pavilion any commissioned a number of artists. Many of the pop artist ROY Lichtenstein Klaus Oldenburg has long with Ellsworth Kelly to make works for the facade of the pavilion and Warhol was decided that he would use these images taken from a New York City. Police bulletin of individuals wanted for crimes, and he silkscreen them onto a huge canvas. And they were put on the facade of the pavilion. Now, they fair organizers weren't so happy about this thought that they were perhaps not the image. They should project in to the fair and family friendly. They asked him to submit something else. He wanted to have a portrait of Robert Moses, the great either destroyer or maker of New York, obviously, he's a contentious figure, and they said, no. So he painted them over and silver. And that was it. He also made a film series called the thirteen most beautiful boys. So this is where you see these dual aspects of Warhol, and I still think it's incredibly outrageous thing to have put it the world's fair at that period of time. This is pre stonewalls very different time. But not everybody got that reading of it people knew who were in the know. Anyway, that's why and they're the anti hero. They're the complete opposite of what you would have expected. But it's why it's such an incredible series. We're speaking with Donna desalvo's. She curated the Andy Warhol show from a to b and back again, which is currently at the Whitney it just it just opened up. There is the death and disaster series as well. Which really you get a sense of how obsessed he was with media and. Headlines in terms of the series. How does it fit into his whole career? Sure. Well, it's a very important series. And it's often seen as one of his pivotal series of works. I mean, he was obsessed with media because we're obsessed with media. So he was reflecting in a sense, the cultural desire for news, and you know, spectacle and tragedy sadly cells so he picked up on that. So many of the images were discarded from AP wire photo UPI because they were too gruesome some of them actually appeared in magazine. So he was going to do a show in Paris, which was going to call death in America. And these were that's where they were first shown. So you have images of car crashes suicides, and you have some where there really speaking to historical moment. So it must race riot which uses the famous Charles Moore photograph of the civil rights protests in Birmingham, where they protesters are attacked by dogs or there's one of two women who die as a result of eating. Tainted tuna fish. They do botulism or you also have a suicide of a woman who's fallen from jumped from the Empire State building. Some of these appeared in life magazine, some of them never made it because they were so gruesome, but I think what you see there is you move from celebrity to this anonymous because he's we don't know who these people are. And it also gives you the darker side of Warhol's whole project. You know, there's a dark side to Warhol there's a dark side to consumption to overconsumption and also look, we're there's a base insect. That attracts is to looking at some of these images, we're bombarded with them. And you know, we're whole is grows up in the age of radio TV comes into the what into the picture like mid fifties. So we're more and more that culture that time people are looking at images for more, and they're the great pictorial magazines life, look as well as New York Post Daily Mirror. Some of these things don't even exist. Anywhere. So the picture became the language, and we're we're in even more today. I think about that sometimes as I was walking through what about Andy Warhol were alive during the internet. Yes. Sorta make sure heads pre-digital guy. Yeah. It's an amazing. It's amazing thought there's also some very interesting behind the scenes quotidian pictures of him vacuuming gallery where he's going to have a show. Why was it important to have that be part of the essentially a work of art? So he well because I think that when we're home was shot in nineteen sixty eight by Valerie Solanas who had written a book called scum the society for cutting up men, and he she was very unhappy with Warhol he promised to produce one of her maker, whatever screens into a move. It didn't happen and she shot him. And he was fate. I mean, it was a near fatal shooting. He comes has a period of convalescence. You know, oftentimes people think this is when Warhol's work declines, and what you see through some of these experiments in this period of sixty eight to seventy two are actually how fertile his mind is an I believe you learn a lot from an artist by seeing the works, actually. Never make the quote unquote, big time because they show the process, you know, it's never a to z. It's a to be a to z ADD back and forth. And so that gallery that's actually a project. He was asked to do for a non x a women's college. That doesn't exist anymore. Right. Yeah. And he along with a number of other artists were invited to do projects in the gallery. So what does he do something? So simple as you say so quotidian he vacuums the gallery, it's documented and he leaves behind the bag of dirt. So all that exists. And I just think it shows him as a conceptual artist show. Some has humor is also looking at almost kind of emptiness nothingness, which is a serious read serious and funny, similar Tena Asli. There's also one of these time capsules why did he do those? So they start from very pragmatic place. He was moving. They removing factories moving the studio. Uh-huh. Yet. All this junk that people sent him fan letters invitations all kinds of things. So it started very practically Vincent Fremont who worked with him for many years. They just got these boxes, and they started he started packing things away discern point. He just systematize. So they're six hundred sixty of these time capsules, and they just have an array of things, I think they're so great because they might be kind of thing you might find an anthropological digs an archaeological dig someday. And we have one on display from the period around one thousand nine hundred seventy two seventy three and their fan letters Christmas cards things from eve seller on artists. Like Ray Johnson. It runs the gamut from the famous to the unknown. Some of them are their books. Apparently, they opened the time capsule at the end of Warhol museum that had a birthday cake that wasn't eaten. So you get the sense of the stream and the flow of culture, and in a way, that's the. The that's the source for so much of what were hall brings into all aspects of his art. We're speaking Madonna desalvo. She curated Andy Warhol from a to b and back again, which is currently at the Whitney. Where do we see his background? He's Andy Warhol. He grew up Catholic. Where do we see this in the show? Sure. Well, there's an early room in the exhibition. We're actually there's only a few pieces from his time when he was a student at the Carnegie institute of technology now Carnegie Mellon.