‘Art of our time’

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“He was a mas­ter col­orist, yet that series is black and white.”

Though it wasn’t un­com­mon for Warhol to cre­ate col­or­less line draw­ings, “Sex Parts” is rare for be­ing a series done in grayscale.

“Andy Warhol was bril­liant at us­ing stun­ning col­ors, of­ten to make hor­rific images — ini­tially — look very pretty. Stop and look at the elec­tric chairs — lovely pas­tel col­ors, so you stop and look. If you walk right by a piece of art, you can’t ever think about it, so he uses beautiful col­ors to get you to stop and look,” Schnitzer said. “In the case of the ‘Sex Parts,’ they’re beau­ti­fully drawn, very in­ti­mate … but they are de­void of color and I think he didn’t make them for the gen­eral public in the way his other series were made and shown in gal­leries. And maybe he didn’t need the mouse­trap of us­ing beautiful color to get peo­ple to stop and look at the art, be­cause peo­ple who were look­ing at the ‘Sex Parts’ were not just pass­ing by.”

In ad­di­tion to “Sex Parts,” Schnitzer reads LGBT themes wo­ven into the “Cam­ou­flage” and “Shad­ows” series.

“The others are far more sub­tle, and yet just as pow­er­ful and in some ways even more,” Schnitzer said. “Cam­ou­flage is used for mil­i­tary pur­poses to hide a sol­dier from the en­emy. But is [ Warhol] also sug­gest­ing that we all cam­ou­flage our­selves; we all have a public per­sona and im­age? And is that im­age dif­fer­ent than what lies be­neath? Is he sug­gest­ing with the ‘Cam­ou­flage’ series that much of his life has been cov­ered up, hid­ing be­hind his public per­sona?”

“Shad­ows,” mean­while, jux­ta­pose loosely geo­met­ric shapes made of black “diamond dust” with neon and pri­mary col­ors fill­ing up the rest of the page.

“It’s like be­ing drawn into time and mem­ory, look­ing up into the sky and pon­der­ing life,” Schnitzer said. “Does that re­late again to his per­sonal jour­ney? Was his pri­vate life al­ways sort of in the shad­ows of his public life, get­ting back to his be­ing gay?”

“[It’s] an ex­hi­bi­tion that har­nessed the power of me­dia to ap­pro­pri­ate images, study con­sumer goods, sex, death, disaster, for a body of work that’s revo­lu­tion­ary. The ex­hi­bi­tion high­lights Warhol’s ob­ses­sion with rep­e­ti­tion, se­ri­al­ity … and Warhol fa­mously blurred these bound­aries be­tween orig­i­nal and copy through­out his ca­reer,” said Michael Rooks, who cu­rated the ex­hibit for the High.

Though many of the prints were cre­ated decades ago — the en­tire first room in the ex­hibit hall fea­tures works Warhol cre­ated with his mother — Schnitzer said many of the is­sues are still rel­e­vant.

“He was able to trans­late the themes that were hit­ting this coun­try,” he said. “It’s art of our time. It speaks to us of is­sues that are just as preva­lent. … They’re try­ing to speak to us and have us help shape our val­ues. Who are we? What are our be­liefs? What’s im­por­tant to us?”

And to re­ally un­der­stand that, Schnitzer said, we must go dis­cover for our­selves.

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