The Social Work “la Caixa” shows 350 works that traverse the career of the greatest representative of pop art
Hypochondriac, visionary, insecure, multifaceted, immensely creative and perhaps the greatest artistic agitator of the twentieth century. Andy Warhol was a fascinating character who embodied in his work multitude of experiences of his more than extravagant life. And since 14 September, he is the protagonist in CaixaForum Barcelona, which dedicates the largest retrospective made in Spain about his work in an exhibition curated by the artistic director of the Picasso Museum in Malaga, José Lebrero.
Andy Warhol. The mechanical art will satisfy the experts and the general public, because precisely at the heart of the work of the father of pop art is the ‘democratize’ art and reach the masses of the public. Through December 31, all the creative stages of the artist can be traced through 350 works, intensely influenced by his experiences, including the most iconic of the artist: from the famous Campbell’s soup to the portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Mao.
Daily objects converted into art
The exhibition focuses on the evolution and transformations that Warhol’s work experienced throughout his frantic artistic career. After his beginnings as a designer, in 1961 he finally broke the frontier between illustrated art and publicity to create his first group of paintings specifically designed for the art world. Since then, dynamiting barriers between different artistic fields, as well as between popular culture and art, became a constant in his work.
Appliances for sale, advertisements for beauty treatments published in newspapers and magazines, consumer products; like a Midas king who united art and consumerism, Warhol transformed a myriad of everyday objects in the North America of his youth into works of art. In spite of the breaker of the proposal, they were surprisingly well received in his time.
Among the works that can be seen include the most iconic of the artist, from the famous soup Campbell’s to the portraits of Marilyn Monroe
In order to highlight the reductive, repetitive and schematic nature of his artistic trajectory, works and documentation have been selected that reflect his journey through three stages: as a young but very successful New York graphic designer in the 1950s to the formal operations of reverted images of the 1980s , already become world icon of pop art.
Between enigma and exposure to the public
His self-representation is a further part of the artistic repertoire of the artist, born as Andrew Warhola (Warhol was a printing mistake he liked) in 1928 in a humble family of Slovak immigrants. And this, because it always made of its public image an elaborate construction, enigmatic and at the same time exposed to the public. Throughout the exhibition it is easy to understand how Warhol created a character of himself, able to unite the figures of the shaman, the entrepreneur, the genius and the cultural editor.
In this sense, many of the works that can be seen in CaixaForum are strongly influenced by his work. Before and After is an example of this, a reflection on the fixation by the physicist. And it is that the childhood of Warhol was marked the ‘dance of San Vito’, a disease that caused changes in the pigmentation of his skin or that created a great insecurity. Warhol dragged him through his life and shaped this suffering in many of his works.
Another of Warhol’s most iconic works are undoubtedly the Campbell soup cans, which his mother, whom he was very attached to, habitually served her to eat. In 1952, Julia Warhola learned that her son lived with great sloppiness and fed himself with knick-knacks and went to his aid with him in what was to be a brief visit. He stayed 20 years. When he died, Warhol refused to process the news, did not attend the funeral and always denied that he had died.
Warhol also had a very particular relationship with religion and death. The universal symbol of memento mori (remember that you will die) appears frequently in his work, as is the case of Skulls, which can be admired in the exhibition.
The Dalí plant
In the 70’s, Warhol frantically launched a celebrity portrayal: made more than a thousand works of characters such as Mick Jagger, Jimmy Carter or Pele. He also wanted to immortalize celebrities before the camera. Among the outstanding pieces that can be seen in the exhibition are his Screen Tests, very short silent films of people who interested him, three or four minutes in length.
Salvador Dalí did for him two camera tests. The first, dubbed ‘Upside Down Dalí’ was a typically surreal representation in which Dalí looked at the target with a frown and authoritarian air. In the second, Dalí simply got up in the middle of the shoot and left to not return, planting Warhol.
Declared clinically dead … and resurrected
Despite being the king of consumer culture – his is the phrase “Buy is much more American than think, and I am the height of American,” the irony wanted his latest works were dedicated to two of the highest representatives of the Communism: Mao and Lenin.
He had already raffled to death 20 years earlier, when Valeria Solanas, a derelict artist, shot him three times at the entrance of his studio. At that time he was declared clinically dead, but a doctor opened his chest and gave a heart massage directly into the heart. He survived and refused to testify against the aggressor. His actual death occurred almost 20 years later, in 1987, as a result of an arrhythmia.
Once deceased, Warhol had accumulated so many items that Sotheby’s needed nine days to auction them. But, above all, it left an essential artistic legacy for anyone interested in the history of 20th century art. Until the end of the year, the appointment with the pop-art father is in CaixaForum.
The ‘Warhol Night’
The Warhol spirit will also invade the city on the evening of Friday, October 20th. Some of the most influential creators of Barcelona will show their creations live inspired by the figure and work of the American. Music, video art, visual arts or photography will be a good part of the artistic disciplines to pay homage to the myth that made the party a most placid way of understanding art.
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