The Whitney Museum’s exhibition, Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again is a great representation of the artist’s body of work. Despite the fact that so much of it has been seen before, the curation makes so much of it feel fresh.
Andy Warhol’s artistic legacy is vast. He created a prolific amount of work throughout his career and the exhibition covers a lot of it. From his early commercial illustrations to his more abstract pieces, his collaborations with Basquiat, his silk screen portraits, his videos, films, and books, there is a lot to see. Below are a few highlights.
Warhol’s fascination with death is seen in numerous works in the exhibition. In 129 Die In Jet, 1962 (pictured above), he recreated the newspaper cover by hand and even used a sponge-blotting technique to reproduce the look of the halftone image. It’s interesting to see how this work foreshadowed his move to the screen printing process. This technique combined with his interest in the subject of death can be seen in his car crash paintings made the following year.
There’s a room dedicated to reproducing Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper, which he used to fill a room in the Castelli Gallery as part of a 1966 installation where he “retired from painting”. He used it again in 1971 for a retrospective at the Whitney, where he directed that all the works be hung on it for the exhibition. It’s a creative way to tie in that history and to present the various colored flower paintings.
Some of Warhol’s portrait series, Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975, which focused on members of New York’s queer community, is included in the show. It’s a nice contrast to his portraits that more commonly feature socialites and Hollywood celebrities.
His giant portrait of Mao is impressive, and takes up a wall in one of the galleries. It’s a reproduction of a painting by Zhang Zhenshi, which was at the time thought to be the most widely reproduced artwork in the world. Warhol created the work in response to reading about then President Nixon’s trip to meet with the Chinese leader, while China was still considered an enemy of the United States.
On a separate floor are several monitors playing Warhol’s video work and work related to the artist. Included is one of him eating a Burger King burger, shot by Danish documentarian Jørgen Leth, that the fast food chain used as part of their ad in this year’s Superbowl.
Warhol was a constantly evolving artist who worked in many mediums, in effective ways. The exhibition is a testament to Warhol’s unique perspective and how his work continues to resonate in a time period where so much of what he was commenting on has even more relevance.
Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, closes 3/31/19 and is free Friday from 7-10pm.