Andy Warhol – King of Pop Art
05/02/2015 – 09/27/2015
With Andy Warhol, the messmer Kunsthalle is presenting the most important representative of American Pop Art and one of the most dazzling personalities of the 20th century. Like hardly any other artist, Warhol revolutionized modern pictorial language and permanently changed our ideas about art. His series of glamorous stars from film and politics, soup cans and dollar bills have long been among the icons of art history. The series as a means of artistic expression became Warhol’s trademark and the serigraph his most popular artistic medium. The exhibition highlights the most important stages of his artistic career. Beginning with a selection of early drawings from the 1950s, it documents Warhol’s groundbreaking development from his early days as a commercial artist to becoming the king of pop art.
Growing up as a child of Slovak immigrants in the slums of Pittsburgh, Warhol’s career from poor, sick child to successful commercial artist in New York and star of the international art scene embodies the “American Dream”. In order to achieve this dream, he pulled out all the stops, moving as much in underground circles as in the hip New York party scene. Again and again he knew how to provoke and shock his audience with his motifs and his lifestyle. Even as a student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, he undermined the cult surrounding the artist’s personal handwriting by copying his drawings and having friends color them. A principle which he continued in his legendary Factory in Manhattan. The name alone said it all: Andy Warhol no longer considered the artist’s studio but the factory as the production site for his art. This is where he created his famous serigraphs of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soups.
Time and again, art and commerce mix in Warhol’s work and in the marketing of his person. What began at The Factory in the 1960s reached another peak in the 1970s, when Warhol portrayed anyone for $25,000 willing to pay the money. The serial principle runs through his entire artistic work and is an expression of his way of thinking that dominates him. It stands for industrial mass production, but at the same time for a democratization of social habits. Because everyone in America drinks a Coca-Cola or eats a Campbell soup, from the President to the common man.
A special highlight is the complete ten-part Marilyn series, which Andy Warhol began just a few days after Monroe’s tragic death. The Pop Art artist not only created one of his most famous series, but also immortalized the Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe as the icon of modern art and pop culture. Other top works such as the large-format portrait of Goethe, Campbell’s Soups, Maos, Flowers and “Flash”, Warhol’s documentation of the Kennedy assassination, make this top-class exhibition an unforgettable experience.