Andy Warhol: Social Observer
Celebrated Pop artist Andy Warhol has long been one of the most intriguing personalities of 20th century art. Famous for promoting himself as apathetic, vacuous and superficial, he was in fact a passionate observer with opinions, affiliations, sympathies and a strong sense of politics.
Examining the subjects and themes that preoccupied Warhol, the exhibition spans his entire career from as early as the 1940s to the time of his death in 1987. Social Observer was the first exhibition to fully explore this aspect of Warhol’s work and offers a deeper understanding of his place in the history of 20th-century American art.
The show includes selections from his series devoted to “Electric Chairs,” “Car Crashes,” “Most Wanted Men,” and “Race Riots.” One of Warhol’s “Time Capsules” is also on view, providing a glimpse into a rarely examined aspect of his infatuation with popular culture.
The exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections: Disguise, Death and Disaster, Politics, Advertising, Cover Stories, Celebrity and Symbolism. These sections highlight Warhol’s engagement with what he perceived to be socially relevant in art and life.
Included in the exhibition are well-known images such as Warhol’s Self Portrait (1964), political canvases of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong (1976) and the Shah of Iran (c. 1978), as well examples of his cover-story series and paintings of James Dean, Judy Garland and Muhammad Ali. Also highlighted in the exhibition is the poignant black and white canvas entitled Sixteen Jackies (1965). A montage of Jacqueline Kennedy images drawn from press photographs, the image shows her shrouded in mourning after President Kennedy’s assassination.