Added on March 31, 2002: Essential
for any collector: Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisoné, Vol. 1: Paintings
and Sculpture, 1961-1963. Phaidon, March 2002, 512 p. Edited by Georg
Frei and Neil Printz. Get it from Amazon.com,
Biography and the exhibition
Series and Singles at the Fondation
Beyeler. Catalogue, hardcover,
DuMont, Cologne, 2000, 216
p. Text in German and English.
Get it from Amazon.de
The Fondation Beyeler celebrates the
expansion of its annex exhibition space in Riehen with a fresh look at Andy Warhol's
Series and Singles. Georg Frei, an expert on Warhol and the
co-editor of his catalogue raisonné, worked as a guest curator for the
exhibition. In the Beyeler collection, Warhol
has only been represented since 1998 (with three paintings). For the exhibition,
the foundation managed to assemble some 100 works from
museums and collections around the world. Among the exhibits are Coca-Cola,
Suicide and Troy which have not been shown in public for
over three decades.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. At the age of 17, he entered the Carnegie
Institute of Technology where he majored
in pictorial design. Upon graduation, Andy Warhol moved to New York where,
in 1949, he
began to work as an illustrator for
several magazines including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The
New Yorker. He also did advertising and window displays for several retail stores.
His first assignment
was for Glamour magazine for an article intitled Success is a
Job in New York.
Throughout the 1950s, Warhol enjoyed great
success as a commercial artist. He won several commendations
from the Art Director's Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
In these years, he shortened his name from Warhola to Warhol. In
1952, Andy had his first individual show at the Hugo Gallery,
exhibiting Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote.
Other exhibitions followed, including
his first group show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1956.
Warhol was one of the first artists to
understand the importance of the mass media. He took his early material
from comic strips and advertisements which he found in tabloids like The
National Inquirer and The Daily News. In contrast to Jasper
Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and other representatives of Pop Art who
integrated objects tel quel, without modification, in their paintings, Warhol concentrated on -
at first hand painted - subjects of mass consumption and culture by isolating and monumentalizing
them, without using other objects in the background and without
preliminary sketches. Warhol used a projector to put them on canvas. He made it plain and simple and therefore was able
to create the icons of Pop Art. In the Series and Singles
exhibition, his early work
is well represented with Comics, Campbell's Soup Cans, Dollar
Bills and other Coca-Colas.
At the end of 1961, Andy created his first
serial work with small Campbell's Soup Cans. A year later, his Do
It Yourself pictures followed. In 1962, he began to experiment with
silkscreening images onto painted canvas, a technique that allowed him to repeat a subject almost an
infinite number of times. His series with Elvis
Presley, Warren Beatty, Natalie Wood and other stars was based on it.
The new technique made Warhol a star. In these early silkscreens, John
Cage's chance operations came into play. The poet Gerard Malanga served as
In 1963, Warhol said in an interview that he wanted to
work like a machine. He created the silkscreen paintings of Elizabeth
Taylor. It was the year of Cleopatra, starring her and Richard
Burton. Then, Warhol created the Death and Disaster
series, showing car accidents, electric chairs and more. In the beginning
of 1964, Andy moved to the Factory, which became the center of his work
and a synonymous for a purely serial method of operation. His Jackies and Flowers
fall into this period. But only his Brillo, Campell's and other Kellogg's Boxes
are actually identical to each other since they came directly off the
production line, whereas overlapping and smudging created individual
aspects in his series of paintings. For the Jackies, Warhol used
eight different images of Jacqueline Kennedy taken just before and after
the assassination of her husband, whereas the Flowers use the same
motifs, but differ in their arrangement, color and cropping. Later came
In the summer of 1964, the New York World
Fair opened. Warhol had been commissioned to do a mural for the American
pavilion. Andy prepared a 20 foot by 20 foot work in black and white
called The Thirteen Most Wanted Men featuring the police mug-shots
of criminals. The Governor of New York, Nelson A. Rockefeller, already
famous for similar decisions, ordered it removed. When Warhol's idea for a
substitution, a painting with panels of a public official named Robert
Moses, was not accepted, Andy had his work painted over in silver.
His friend Henry Geldzahler suggested that Andy
should give up his Death and Disaster series and pointed out some
flowers in a magazine as an alternative subject. The result was Warhol's
series of glyphs of joy in the form of poppy flowers. They were
commercially successful and, according to Edward Sanders, predicted the
American Flower Power movement three years ahead of time.
In addition to
painting, Warhol made 16mm films like Chelsea Girls, Empire and Blow Job,
which have become underground
In 1968, Valerie Solanis, founder and sole member of SCUM (Society for
Cutting Up Men) walked into the Factory and
shot the artist. The attempted murder was nearly fatal. It changed
Warhol's life and art. In 1972, Andy
was back. Now, the monochromatic backgrounds of his silkscreens were
replaced by more abstract-expressionistic paintings. With Hammer and
Sickle, Warhol explored still-life painting in which he dealt with
objects and their shadows. The theme of death returned with Skulls
and Shadows. He concentrated on the interplay between printing and painting.
In his Oxidation series, urination takes the place of painting, a
sarcastic reference to Pollock's drippings.
In the early 1970s, Warhol began
publishing Interview magazine and wrote The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A
to B and Back Again). He started the 1980s with the
publication of POPism: The Warhol '60s and with exhibitions of Portraits
of Jews of the Twentieth Century and the Retrospectives and
Reversal series. He also created two cable television shows, Andy Warhol's TV
(1982) and Andy Warhol's Fifteen
Minutes for MTV (1986). According to the mood
of the 1980s, he introduced his Diamond Dust Shoes and Diamond
Dust Beuys portraits. They referred to his beginnings as a commercial
artist in the 1950s. In the Last Supper, Warhol finally celebrates
his own immortality. He also engaged in a series
of collaborations with younger artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat,
Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring.
Following routine gall bladder surgery,
Andy Warhol died on the 22nd of February 1987. In
1989, the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed a major retrospective of
his works. Five years later, the Andy Warhol Museum opened in Pittsburgh,
The catalogue documents Warhol the painter
and sculptor of Series and Singles. Since he was an artist
with multiple talents, his early films make up an integral part of the
exhibition. Warhol also helped the music
group The Velvet Underground to establish themselves. Above all, Warhol was able to
create a special modern glyphic universe consisting of Elvis', Marliyns,
Liz' and Jackies. Andy's late work was essentially based
upon the years of finding the modern glyph, say 1962 to 1964.
The exhibition is chronological and follows
Warhol's six New York ateliers. At Townhouse, 1342 Lexington Avenue, Andy
made his hand-painted comic and consumer goods paintings, the Do It
Yourself and the Close Cover Before Striking series. At
Firehouse, an unheated loft between Lexington Avenue and 3rd Avenue 87th
Street, the Disaster and Silver series were born. Then came
the time of the Factory, 231 East 47th Street, a hotspot for the
avant-garde, where the Flower, Jackie, Boxes and Marilyn
series were created. In the 1970s, Warhol moved to the studios in 33 Union
Square West and 860 Broadway, where his art became more expressive. His own
retrospective, the Diamond Dust pictures, the self-portraits as
well as the religiously inspired Last Supper series were made in the
1980s in his atelier at 22 East 33rd Street. In the exhibition, key
pictures of his different series are confronted with impressive singles
from other series.
Get the exhibition catalogue, Series
and Singles from Amazon.com
or from Amazon.de.
Fondation Beyeler, DuMont Verlag, 2000, 216 p. With essays, all in German
and English, by Ernst Beyeler and Georg Frei for the introduction, by
Peter Gidal on Saturday Disaster & Blowjob and by Edward
Sanders on Andy Warhol and the Glyphe. Exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler,
until December 31, 2000.
Check also the article on Pop
Art. For more articles on exhibitions: Art.
For the Fondation Beyeler's website and
other art related links: