I was too young to have experienced Andy Warhol’s New York, but the idea of it has always fascinated me.
It was a time before banks took over the neighborhood restaurants, and nightclubs weren’t just for those willing to drop $10,000 on a night out. I’m still proud to live in Manhattan, and, like Warhol, I prefer to live uptown and vacation downtown, but that’s mostly because downtown apartments are like four times the price.
When I heard The Whitney was curating an Andy Warhol retrospective, “Andy Warhol—From A To B And Back Again,” I knew I had to see it. There have been countless Warhol exhibits, but this is the first Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since 1989.
Few artists are as instantly recognizable as Warhol, who died in 1987. Warhol is the most inventive, influential, and important American artist of his time. For nearly two decades, the pop artist spent time at his summer home in Montauk, the Eothen estate. It was a place where Warhol’s famous friends could go to relax. It was also the site of inspiration for the artist’s sunset series.
The exhibit is organized by Senior Curator Donna De Salvo, along with Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant, and Mark Loiacono, curatorial research associate.
“I’ve always felt lucky that I met Warhol,” said De Salvo during the exhibit’s press opening on Tuesday, November 6. “Nothing beats working directly with the artist.” She also stated that Warhol “inspired a lifetime interest in American art” for her.
Alice Pratt Brown Director Adam Winberg stated during a press preview that the exhibit is “one of the most complex undertakings in our history.” The show includes more than 300 works. He opined that Warhol’s work is more relevant today than ever before stating right now is “the selfie generation where everyone is the star of their own photograph or movie.”
Warhol promoted a collection of people known as Warhol superstars, and coined the widely-used expression “15 minutes of fame.” The retrospective introduces Warhol to the 21st Century.
As an artist, Warhol experimented with non-traditional art-making techniques. He understood the growing power of images in contemporary life and helped to expand the role of the artist in society.
Curating the exhibit was no easy feat, carefully selecting works that would best represent the artist. As De Salvo described, “I guess Andy was really right when he said ‘success was a job in New York.’”
The Whitney has also released a Warhol video series. It’s a series of short videos that take a fresh look at the artist, to create a new kind of portrait and understand his current relevance.
“Warhol really investigated the fundamental nature of what an image is,” said De Salvo during one of the films.
Why Warhol now? That is the central question explored in the three-part series. The films include interviews on the subject with notable artists, cultural producers, and influencers.
“Andy’s work was so generous because it let us just appreciate everything around us as vital information, something worth contemplating,” said artist Jeff Koons, one of the artists interviewed. Koons joins Deborah Kass, Andy Cohen, and more in the films.
“Warhol was a myth when he was alive, and he’s even more of a myth now,” said De Salvo.
The series can be viewed on The Whitney’s YouTube channel. The exhibit at The Whitney runs through March 31.