The most striking theme that underlied almost the entirety of the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s new exhibit, a collection of pieces and polaroids created by the late American artist Andy Warhol, is the sheer simplicity of them.
Having been a pioneer of what is now infamously known as ‘Pop Art,’ an art genre which serves to take figures and images of the greater popular culture and turn them into colorful, eye-catching renditions of the original photos, Warhol’s works all share an appreciation of the temporal; of the time that he lived within.
This was apparent in the many polaroids that Warhol would take of his everyday life. This included his plethora of celebrity friends, many of which he would interview and subsequently snap pictures of to add to his collection. The collection is filled with actors, fellow artists and friends such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sean McKeon and many others. Most of the exhibit was dedicated to this side of his work, as well as a few silkscreen prints to show what some of these polaroids would later turn into for some of Warhol’s favorite mementos.
While the celebrity artist dabbled in many mediums of art, the exhibition focuses on his efforts to revolutionize what might be called artistic photography today. The photography of Warhol served to open up the medium as a place for artistry, and opened a path for the picture-crazed culture we see today with most of the social media, particularly with Instagram and Snapchat. The advent of these services, alongside more readily available means to take a picture, allow day-to-day mundane moments to be captured with the same ease and clarity.
While these polaroids are the majority of the exhibit, there are quite a few larger pieces done by Warhol in his characteristically colorful style. This includes a piece from his portfolio of screen-printed female monarchs, his “Reigning Queens” series. One on display in this exhibit was “Queen Beatrix.” Another interesting piece among these is, “Truck” which is just that- a depiction in a similar style to “Queen Beatrix” of an 18-wheeler cargo truck.
The rendering of these otherwise ordinary people and objects- though maybe not so ordinary in the case of the queen- is an interesting route for Warhol to have taken in his art. In a medium that so often deals in abstractions, to colorize and otherwise not obscure the subject or figure on display is rare.
Although I may not be the most well-versed in art or its movements, to walk along an exhibit that contains works that have existed for several of my lifetimes, and to still have that art echo the reality that exists today, is a beautiful thing, regardless of its simplicity.
Once again the Weatherspoon has curated not only an interesting exhibit, but an interesting experience as a whole and a greater dedication to one of the most important artists in the history of the U.S. The Andy Warhol exhibit will be in curation from now until Feb. 3, 2019.