Hardly a day goes by when, somewhere in the world, the work of Andy Warhol, or something Warhol-related, isn’t being shown, bought, sold or appropriated. In just the past few weeks his work is being shown at the Portland Art Museum, being used as a marketing tool for a new Lexus campaign and a pair of panties that he drew on and gave to a friend were valued at six-figures on the Antiques Roadshow.
Looking back at the way Warhol kept reinventing himself and transitioning his work, we wanted to take a look at some of the Warhol works in our gallery that were part of his ever-evolving process.
The Flower series was one of Warhol’s major departures from Pop and shock. Flowers wasn’t all his idea, but he certainly made it his own.
The year was 1964, and Warhol was commissioned to make a large-scale work to decorate the New York State Pavilion at the World’s Fair. Warhol, at that time, had focused his work on death and disaster. His contribution to the fair was Thirteen Most Wanted Men, a blow up of silkscreened mugshots from the NYPD. The work was censored…painted over and covered up before the fair opened.
Then came the day, in 1964, when Warhol found a fold-out, in the June issue of Modern Photography, of flowers, take by the magazine’s executive editor, Patricia Caulfield. One side of the fold-out showed four variations of the image, much like Warhol produced in his own work. Warhol ran with it, and the result was a very successful show at the Leo Castelli Gallery, followed by a second successful exhibition of Flowers, in 1965, at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, in Paris.
The following year, Warhol exhibited Flowers at the Castelli Gallery, along with forty-two portraits of Jackie Kennedy, which he placed edge-to-edge, as if they were a single work. After the Paris exhibit, Warhol said that he was going to retire from painting, and began to make films and sculptures.
Warhol was always taking Polaroid portraits of the celebrities he partied with. In 1976 he got a new camera and convinced his friend, Bob Colacello to take photos wherever they went, so that they could do a photography book together. The result was Exposures, a book of celebrity, fashion, politics and a good look at the world Warhol inhabited. After Party is one of the photos he took during that time, a departure from his usual portraits, which speaks volumes about a night in the life of Warhol.
In 1983, Warhol’s work was influenced, in part, by his collaborations with artists Francesco Clemente and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Several of his works, which he submitted as covers for the Washington Post, combine silkscreen with colored paper collage. The Tidal Basin series are dream-like images of the section of Washington D.C. where tourists flock to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and the Lincoln Memorial reflected in the pool at its base. This possible departure from the norm, for Warhol, could have been caused by his feelings for Basquiat, with whom he had a mentoring relationship.
Warhol’s body of work, the years before he died, was extraordinary and prolific, even for him. In 1984, galerie Alexandre Iolas commissioned Warhol to create a group of works based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper (1495-97) for an exhibition space in the Palazzo Stelline in Milan, located across the street from Santa Maria delle Grazie, home of Leonardo’s masterpiece. Warhol created many works, using Last Supper as a theme and then went on, the year before he died, to do a Cowboys and Indians series, based on popular culture’s fictional notions of the West.
From convicts to cowboys, Warhol always managed to turn our daily images into thoughtful reflections of our culture. His works are as relevant today as they were in the mid-twentieth century.
For more information about these, or any of the other works in our gallery, please contact us.