Andy Warhol Portraits: Art and Irony

by - July 10, 2014

Detail of Reigning Queens (Royal Edition)(Queen Ntombi) by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), screenprint and diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board, 1985, Extra, out of the edition. Designated for research and educational purposes only. (c) The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Andy Warhol Portraits: Art and Irony
Reception Friday, July 11, 5-7:30pm
Art Museum at the University of Memphis
142 Communication and Fine Arts Building
Work on display through September 13

In conjunction with Memphis Brooks Museum of Art's exhibition, Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper, AMUM presents selections from its collection of Andy Warhol portrait Polaroids, black and white photos and silkscreen prints. Marisol and Warhol were colleagues and Pop portraitists, he in painting, she in sculpture. Warhol's genius was to yank fine art from its pedestal of exclusivity and present it as a commodity undifferentiated from Campbell soup and Brillo pads—but much more expensive. Marisol participated in his films and in events at his studio, the Factory, the throbbing center of the Pop Art movement where celebrities, wannabe celebrities and dazzled hangers-on congregated to rock and revel at night and become portrait subjects during working hours. Warhol, the fright-wigged wizard of coolness, presided over this frenetic universe, and the media loved the entire phenomenon.

Andy Warhol Portraits: Art and Irony reveals the process behind the portraits, which in turn reveals the sitters, whether stars or suburbanites, as profoundly ordinary people eager for their moments of reflected glory. Ten Works x Ten Artists, 1964, a silkscreen suite in AMUM's collection efficiently encapsulates New York's contemporary artistic environment of the 1960s. It includes Warhol's print recycled from a recent news photo of the 1963 Birmingham race riot. His images culled from the press of violence, war, car and plane crashes, electric chairs and even a stunned, grieving Jackie Kennedy solidify his point that anything, however trivial or disturbing, can be commodified as art.

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