Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons
El Paso Museum of Art
September 11, 2011 through January 6, 2012
The El Paso Museum of Art announces Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons presented by the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation which opens to the public at 12:00 PM on Sunday, September 11, 2011. The exhibition features screen prints from the Jonathan Rogers, Jr. collection which include images of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, John Wayne, General Custer and others.
Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons
Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons includes work that spans a very prolific period and significant part of Warhol’s career from 1964-1986. In this time frame, Warhol recognized and objectified America’s popular culture icons. By elevating such celebrities to a status of consumer object, as if it was food to nourish the soul, Warhol challenged the art world to embrace new subject matter in art: people as products. These are not portraits as much as they are the embodiment of a culture.
Andy Warhol had the tremendous ability of understanding which were the defining myths of a generation, whether or not he belonged to that world; it was a gift of identifying images which unite a group of different individuals in a common mind and placing those images before them as the substance of their being. Critics, and there were many, were blind to the power these images held for vast populations whose lives they distilled and energized. Everyone in America knew and envied Liz, Marilyn, Grace Kelly and John Wayne. This celebrity envy allowed all who embraced them the perception of being a part of what made them grand in the greatest country in the world. The same can be said for those who admired General Custer, Annie Oakley, and the American eagle.
Warhol not only challenged audiences to embrace new subject matter, he challenged the art world to see the art of printmaking as a Fine Art, rather than a process driven art. Prints were primarily made available to a public who could not afford an original, one-of-a-kind, work of art and were considered a less valuable and collectible art form. Warhol elevated the print to a new status, as he considered each of his prints to be unique drawings. Changes in the ink saturation or in the composition during the printing process created variations in each work and the artist viewed them as originals. Warhol stated, “With silkscreening, you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across so that the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple – quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it.”
Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons can now challenge us to consider the realities of Warhol’s intentions. For this opportunity, our gratitude is extended to the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation and the City of El Paso for their support of the El Paso Museum of Art and its programming. In addition, our appreciation is extended to Jonathan Rogers, Jr., who generously lent these works from his private collection for the public to enjoy.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in a two-room row house apartment at 73 Orr Street in Pittsburgh. Warhol attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) from 1945 to 1949 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Pictorial Design with the goal of becoming a commercial illustrator. Warhol then moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist. His work debuted in Glamour magazine in September 1949 and Warhol would soon become one of the most successful illustrators of the 1950s, winning numerous awards. In the late 1950s, Warhol began to devote more energy to painting. He made his first Pop paintings, which he based on comics and ads, in 1961. The following year saw the beginning of Warhol’s celebrity when he debuted his famous Campbell’s Soup Can series; this caused a sensation in the art world. Shortly thereafter he began a large sequence of movie star portraits, including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Throughout the 1970s Warhol frequently socialized with celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Truman Capote, both of whom had been important early subjects in his art. He started to receive dozens—and soon hundreds—of commissions for painted portraits from wealthy socialites, musicians and film stars. Celebrity portraits developed into a significant aspect of his career and a main source of income. He was a regular partygoer at Studio 54, the famous New York disco, along with celebrities such as fashion designer Halston, entertainer Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, and others as seen in this exhibition as inspirations for his subject matter.
Warhol died in New York City in 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Warhol’s will dictated that his entire estate – with the exception of a few modest legacies to family members – would go to create a foundation dedicated to the “advancement of the visual arts”. In accordance with Warhol’s will, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts began in the year of his death. The Foundation serves as the official Estate of Andy Warhol, but also has a mission “to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process” and is “focused primarily on supporting work of a challenging and often experimental nature.
Admission to Andy Warhol: Celebrities and Icons is $10 per person for non-member adults age 13 and up. Admission for EPMA member adults age 13 and up is $5 per person. Children age 12 and under are free.
Tickets may be purchased upon arrival at the Museum Store during regular hours of operation.
Ticket bearer also receives free same day admission to both concurrent Norman Rockwell exhibitions from October 1, 2011 through January 1, 2012.
Exhibition related merchandise is available for purchase at the Museum Store.
The El Paso Museum of Art is closed Mondays and major holidays. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. and Thursday evenings extended until 9:00 p.m. The museum is open Sundays from 12:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m.