'More than any other artist of his generation, Warhol showed us that
the ubiquitous imagery of mass culture had come to reflect and shape
to my visit to the Tate, Andy Warhol existed in my mind as a 20th century
American cultural icon, the guy with the crazy blond hair and the artist
who created the Campbell soup prints. Although his name was always familiar,
I knew little of his life or the context for his work. Walking through
the 21 showrooms of this exhibit, I viewed the origins and evolution
of Warhol's innovative art and gained a comprehensive picture of the
man behind the silkscreen.
After viewing the familiar prints of dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell soup cans, I moved on to the room titled 'Stars'. 16 Jackies, a mixture of Jacqueline Kennedy headshots before and after JFK's assassination, stands out and gives human complexity and emotional depth, in my opinion, unseen in his earlier work with inanimate objects. By unveiling the vulnerability of a national celebrity under the media's scrutiny, Warhol evokes sympathy and awareness.
point, the exhibit drew me in; perhaps, similar to the way Warhol tempted
his followers in the 1960s to hang around his studio waiting for his
next insightful creation.
'I never read. I just look at pictures,' he declared in 1968.
'When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums,' he said in 1985.
Warhol had the power not only to generate provocative art, but also to develop an enticing ideological and cultural movement apart from his artistic creations.
By producing a comprehensive, in depth look at Warhol, including an informative program that ties his life to his work, the Tate Modern's exhibit keeps the viewer fixed on the artist and his intentions at all times; probably just as Warhol would have hoped. The inclusion of his many self-portraits, in which he assumes the position of popular icon, also heightens the viewer's connection to him. Whether you see these images as self-indulgent or self-explorative, or both, you will likely leave the exhibit with his portrait planted in your brain.
From his harsh depiction of the death penalty and violence in the United States to his fascination with popular cultural icons, Warhol's colourful commentary on the media influence and American society combines abrasive truth with casual wit. And his insight continues to entrance viewers and stir debate. For this reason especially, the Tate Modern exhibit succeeds.
Warhol runs at Tate Modern until 1 April 2002.