King of Pop Art
King of Pop Art
From 02.05.2015 to 27.09.2015
In Andy Warhol, kunsthalle messmer presents the most important exponent of American pop art, and one of the most dazzling personalities of the 20th century. Like no other artist, Warhol revolutionised modern visual language and changed our conceptions of art forever. His series of movie stars and glamorous politicians, of cans of soup and dollar bills, have long ranked among the true icons of art history. Using series as an artistic means of expression became Warhol’s signature, and serigraphy his most popular medium. This exhibition sheds light on the most important stages of his artistic development. Beginning with a selection of early sketches from the 1950s, the exhibition stands as testament to Warhol’s trailblazing evolution, from his beginnings as a graphic designer to being christened ‘king of pop art’.
Born the son of eastern European immigrants and growing up in a poor district of Pittsburgh, Warhol and his career embody the American Dream, from a poor, sickly child to a successful graphic designer in New York and a star of the international art scene. He always knew how to be provocative and shock his audience with both the subjects of his artworks and his lifestyle. As a student of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, he broke with the cult of the artist’s own hand by reproducing his sketches and having his friends colour them. This was a concept that he took with him to his legendary Manhattan-based Factory, which proved true to its name: Warhol didn’t consider it to be an artist’s studio, but as an actual factory for producing his art. It was here that his famous prints of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soups were created.
Art and business blend into one in Warhol’s work and in the way he marketed himself. What began at the Factory in the 1960s reached its peak in the 1970s when, for $25,000, Warhol painted the portrait of each person who was willing to pay that sum. Serial imagery is a motif that extends across all of Warhol’s work and is the expression of his compelling way of thinking. This principle represents industrialised mass production, but also the democratisation of social habits, because every American drinks Coca-Cola or eats Campbell’s soup, from the president to the humble labourer.
A highlight of the exhibition is the ten-part series Marilyn, which Warhol began only a few days after the actress’ tragic death. With this series, the artist not only produced one of his most famous series, but also immortalised the Hollywood starlet as an iconic figure of modern art and pop culture. Further classics, like the large-format portrait of Goethe, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Mao and Flowers, as well as Flash – Warhol’s representation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy – make this exhibition a truly unforgettable experience.