Monday, September 24, 2012

"Regarding Warhol" at the Metropolitan Museum

Recently the family and I went to the new exhibit at the Met, Regarding Warhol, an interesting hybrid show of work by the legendary artist and those he influenced.

Andy Warhol was perhaps the most famous American artist of the last fifty years. If anyone defined art in NYC and America in the 1960s and 1970s, it was this Pittsburgh-born transplant who married the avante-garde, almost Dada-esque sensibilities of the counter-culture with the world of commerce and pop culture.
His paintings were of Campbell's soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, and totally unknown people. He was unabashed in making art that people either loved or hated. Besides paintings, he also made movies -- very, very weird movies -- of people sitting at a table doing nothing, or making love, or (as we see in this show) a nearly eight-hour single shot of the Empire State Building. Either you found his work the aesthetic equivalent of a warm hug or a cold slap -- or both. That was the whole point.

Andy Warhol was an artist who became more than just his work -- he became an icon, an idea, an inspiration. And that's the whole point of this exhibit.
Many of the other artists featured in this exhibit are, to be honest, people I never heard of. Except for one -- Jeff Koons -- perhaps the most famous and controversial artist Warhol ever influenced. While the Warhol work is (obviously) great and classic, I honestly found the work of the other artists rather uninteresting and unmemorable. When it comes to Koons' work, I find it less funky than boring and anti-septic. I honestly don't know why his work sells so well.

Still, I would urge you to see this exhibit for two reason. First, it makes you realize what a truly great, revolutionary artist Andy Warhol was and how his work managed to be both of his time and timeless. Second, the exhibit has perhaps the most beautiful ending of any exhibit I've ever gone to anywhere. I won't give it away -- you gotta see it yourself -- but it makes the whole experience worth it.

This exhibit has generated a lot of controversy (like the master himself) so I would recommend reading them here and here.   

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