Warhol still brings wow factor

Updated: 2013-05-24 10:51

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Warhol still brings wow factor

Self-Portrait (above) and Campbell's Soup I: Tomato (below right) are among the 400 artworks displayed in Shanghai. Photos provided by the Andy Warhol Museum to China Daily

We are living in Andy Warhol's future, "when everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes". For the pop artist himself, though, his 15 minutes will never end.

Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, the largest exhibition of Warhol's artworks in Asia, is ongoing at Power Station of Art Shanghai until July 28.

Twenty-six years have passed since Warhol died, but the artist still "has his fingers on the pulse of the culture", says Andy Warhol Museum director Eric C. Shiner.

Warhol's famous quote about fame rings like a prophecy in today's world, where people share their lives on social media and become celebrities in their own way.

The Andy Warhol Museum in the US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has brought more than 400 pieces by the American artist to Shanghai, including iconic subjects - such as the portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Campbell's Soup Cans - and important yet less-known works, according to curator Nicholas Chambers.

Warhol still brings wow factor

"It gives audiences a deeper understanding of Warhol's life and work by showing his renowned output as a painter and print-maker alongside his films, photographs and objects from his archives," Chambers says.

The show is divided into four sections, each representing a decade in Warhol's career. The 1950s, for example, saw his rise to success as a commercial illustrator in New York, and the highlights are his shoe drawings and a sculpture of a gold shoe.

"Warhol was intentionally making what people want, and willing to pay money to own," the Warhol museum's director of publications, Abigail Franzen-Sheehan, says about the artist's works from that period.

In the 1960s Warhol opened his studio, The Factory, to artists and celebrities. He started to make art in multiples as if on an assembly line.

Within a week after Marilyn Monroe killed herself, Warhol started to paint her portrait and then made multi-colored silk-screen prints of it. These highly recognizable portraits brought him to international fame.

Warhol's unusual choice of mundane subjects, from Campbell's soup cans to Coca-Cola and dollar bills, as well as the "factory style" of producing multiples brought harsh criticism such as "boring", "lack of originality" and "too easy".

But Warhol himself was more concerned about the concept of art. Among the exhibits is his film Empire, which consists of eight hours of monotonous footage of the Empire State Building in New York. "He challenged the traditional methods of art making," Shiner says.

The museum director has been eager to bring the exhibition to Asia, especially the Chinese mainland. A researcher of Chinese and Japanese contemporary art, Shiner found many artists in China's contemporary art scene evidently influenced by Warhol.

Li Xiangyang, director of Power Station of Art, says: "In China, the pop-art movement has been perceived more as political pop style. But the exhibition will provide a unique point of view for pop art about daily life and consumerism."

The show's Asia tour began in Singapore last year. After Shanghai it will travel to Beijing and Tokyo.

Warhol still brings wow factor

Warhol still brings wow factor

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