Warhol in the spotlight
Andy Warhol is not only one of the world’s best known artists, but one of few who was famous and fetched high prices while alive.
Since his death in 1987, his reach has become pervasive, with exhibitions, books and more, and his works are far more valuable. In 2008, his 1963 screen print, Eight Elvises, sold for a record breaking US$100 million (NZ$123m).
But despite Warhol’s popularity, most people have only a vague idea of the range of his work or the man himself, says Te Papa’s contemporary art curator, Sarah Farrar.
‘‘Warhol’s such a popular icon, but we have quite a one- dimensional idea of him. Everybody thinks they know Warhol.’’
Farrar hopes Te Papa’s new exhibition, Warhol: Immortal, which opened last weekend, will change people’s views.
"The exhibition will not have what most people recognise as Warhol’s popart period that first brought
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PkanpoawcoWntaermhoplo. curator, Sarah Farrar him world attention. The exhibition doesn’t include Campbell soup cans or Brillo boxes,’’ she says.
The decision was deliberate. Farrar decided that the more than 100 works, including film and video, would focus on Warhol’s obsession with people throughout his career, as well as his many selfportraits.
From vintage family photographs, to Polaroids and his film ‘‘ screen tests’’, it gives a broader view of the artist, with works from as early as the 1940s and his student days.
‘‘There are so many different Warhol shows that you could do.
‘‘What I’ve loved about working on this show is finding out about his early drawings. In the 1950s, for example, he did a show called ‘Drawings for a Boy Book’, which are these wonderful, kind of homoerotic drawings.
‘‘That’s one aspect of his work this show starts to look at.’’
Farrar sourced most of the works from the Andy Warhol Museum in the artist’s home town of Pittsburgh. A few are from elsewhere, including a selfportrait – ‘‘ an incredible work’’, says Farrar – from the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
Many of the works have rarely been shown in Australasia before and Warhol: Immortal is one of the largest Warhol shows in New Zealand since The Warhol Look retrospective at the Auckland Art Gallery in 1999.
That exhibition was a disappointment for the gallery, because it attracted fewer than half the expected 50,000 visitors.
LEGEND: Works by famed artist Andy Warhol on display at Te Papa focus on his obsession with people.