“The idea is not to live forever; it is to create something that will.”
One of the 20th century’s best-known artists, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) made his name in the early 1960s with paintings and prints of brand celebrities and foods ranging from Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor to Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup. These brash, innovative works are considered icons of Pop Art, a movement that both critiqued and celebrated postwar American consumer culture. By the end of the decade, Warhol had become a celebrity in his own right, equally famous for his platinum wig and the star-studded parties he threw in his studio, the Factory, as he was for his paintings, drawings, sculpture, and films.
Before spearheading the Pop Art movement, in the 1950s Warhol achieved success on Madison Avenue as one of New York’s most popular advertising artists. A skilled and inventive illustrator, Warhol won several Art Director’s Club awards for his work on Columbia records LP cover designs, I. Miller shoe drawings, and additional advertising work for Martini & Rossi, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazines.
Once his Pop art career exploded in 1962, Warhol focused on silkscreen painting and filmmaking. He based his paintings on imagery he found in the American mass media: news photos, celebrity head shots, film stills, comics, logos, and advertisements. To convert his source images into paintings, Warhol made them into photo silkscreens and printed them on canvas. Smudges, misalignments, and inconsistencies were accepted, giving the paintings a handmade appearance. Sometimes the paintings included a single image, as in John Wayne (1986) and the Endangered Species series (1983). These became larger-than-life iconic portraits, while those printed in grids, suggested the way that repetition can simultaneously embed an image in one’s memory and deaden its effect.
Works by Warhol, at the Upcountry History Museum, on loan from The Cochran Collection, LaGrange, GA, will feature 36 iconic masterworks by Warhol, dating from 1968 through his last series done in 1986. This once-in-a- lifetime exhibition includes a broad cross-section of examples from Warhol’s storied career.
The exhibit explores Warhol’s responses to major moments in U.S. history, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, and the perception of Native Americans in the aftermath of the bicentennial of the United States. Also included is Warhol’s entire series of “Myths”. This body of work was completed in 1981 and showcases Warhol’s lifetime fascination with Hollywood imagery. “Myths” marks a return to Warhol’s formative encounters with figures such as Howdy Doody, the Wicked Witch of the West, Superman, Mickey Mouse and many more.