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Andy Warhol art

Art Review: Andy Warhol Exhibit at Whitworth Art Gallery

  • NQ's Jessica Leed reviews the new Andy Warhol Exhibit at the Whitworth Art Gallery
  • The exhibition focuses on the work of American 'Pop-Artist' after he nearly died following an assassination attempt

When you think of pop art, the name that instantly springs to mind is Andy Warhol. Whitworth’s exhibition in Artist Rooms successfully depicts Warhol’s great work, all whilst telling a wonderfully unique story.

In 1968 Andy Warhol was shot by feminist author, activist and author Valerie Solanas. Warhol was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. He then received an open-heart massage and was revived. This exhibition focuses on all the works he produced after this traumatic event.

The exhibition allows you to explore the different side of Warhol that most of us are not aware of. Andy Warhol is understood as being an artist of capitalism and celebrity. However, as you walk around examining the work, you are able to see how Warhol is also an artist preoccupied with fatality, politics and the failure of the American Dream in the final decade of his working life.

The scars of the attack relate in a number of works that Warhol produced and this is displayed in the exhibition which successful tells the story of his trauma. ‘Gun’, a unique canvas painting is a duo of repeated prints that relates back to when Warhol nearly lost his life. The painting successful portrays violence in society and is a very bold statement which shows the same snub –nosed.32 that Valerie Solanas shot him with.

Andy Warhol art
Andy Warhol's famous 'Dollar Sign,' (1981)

When you first walk into the exhibition, the most distinct piece of artwork that you notice is a self-portrait of Andy Warhol. If you are familiar with Warhol, it is well known that he despised the way he looked as a result of a childhood illness. He was pale and was prone to redness and acne. He would cover his face in makeup because of how repulsed he was by his face, “When the alcohol is dry…I’m ready to apply the fresh-coloured acne-pimple medication that doesn’t resemble any human flesh I’ve ever seen, though it does come pretty close to mine.”

Whilst examining each of Warhol’s self-portraits, there is a lot of camouflage fabrics and different textures used from the brush strokes of his acrylic canvas works, which supposedly camouflage his mottled skin. Much like his other artworks, Warhol’s self-portraits tell a story. One portrait that does this well, was the 1978 grid of portraits which show him being strangled. Again, these paintings pick up on his recurring traumatic life events and violence.

As well as paintings, this exhibition also shows how Warhol expressed his creativity through photography. In 1976, he began to document his life photographically. A lot of the images Warhol produced were comprised into several prints and machine sewn together and this is displayed at the exhibition.

The exhibition at Whitworth Art Gallery is an interesting insight into Warhol’s life and how he expressed it through his Death and Disaster series (1962-63). It is well worth visiting to discover a different side of Warhol, who shows he had very critical opinions and wasn’t simply a pop artist and a celebrant of capitalism. The exhibition will be open until 16th April 2017.

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