SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
announces the exclusive West Coast presentation of the critically acclaimed exhibition, Andy WarholFrom A to B and Back Again on view from May 19 through September 2, 2019. Spanning the artists 40-year career and featuring more than 300 works on three different floors of the museum, the exhibition includes paintings, drawings, graphics, photographs, films, television shows as well as a personal time capsule of ephemera. The retrospective features examples of the artists most iconic pieces in addition to lesser-known abstract paintings from later in his career. Uncannily relevant in todays image-driven world, Andy WarholFrom A to B and Back Again provides new insight into Andy Warhol himself by examining the complexities of this enigmatic artist more than 30 years after his death in 1987. The shows title is taken from Warhols 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), a memoir featuring the artists musings on fame, love, beauty, class, money and other key themes that frequently appear in his work.
Hes a complicated figure and a complicated artist, said Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA. His inner emotions, his psychic self were not his subject matter. Warhol is constantly labeled a Pop artist, but all that happened within a couple of years and then he moved on and the work goes quite dark and explores questions of gender and sexual identity, fame, subcultures. At the time of his death, the consensus was that Warhol was no longer relevant. But the last major retrospective in 1989 was a wake-up call: this is an artist we have to reckon with.
First presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and curated by Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator at the Whitney, with Christie Mitchell, senior curatorial assistant, and Mark Loiacono, curatorial associate, this exhibition provides an opportunity for new generations to reconsider Andy Warhol, one of the most influential, inventive and important American artists. Warhols understanding of the growing power of images in contemporary life anticipated our social media-focused world and helped to expand the artists role in society making him one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century.
Andy WarholFrom A to B and Back Again also showcases SFMOMAs impressive holdings of many of the artists most important works including National Velvet (1963), Liz #6 (Early Colored Liz) (1963), Triple Elvis (Ferus Type), (1963), Silver Marlon (1963), Robert Mapplethorpe (1983) and self-portraits.
Andy WarholFrom A to B and Back Again will be presented on three floors of SFMOMA: two, four and five.
On the museums second floor, two galleries of works on paper offer a detailed look at Warhols earliest drawings from the 1940s and hand-drawn commercial illustrations created for advertising in the 1950s. These early drawings lay the groundwork for many of the techniques and approaches he would use throughout his career. This portion of the exhibition includes delicate, gilded collages and sketches of shoes for the Miller Shoe Company, and illustrations for publications such as Glamour Magazine and The New York Times.
On display in SFMOMAs fourth-floor special exhibition galleries, the exhibition takes visitors chronologically through the arc of Warhols career and his production in painting, drawing, photography, film and installation. The first half of the exhibition opens with his best known work from the creatively active period of 196068, with his earliest paintings such as Dick Tracy (1961) and Superman (1961), followed by the groundbreaking, iconic Pop Art paintings, Green Coca-Cola Bottles (1962), 192 One Dollar Bills (1962) and the sculpture, Brillo Boxes (1969, version of 1964 original). The exhibition then highlights Warhols depictions of celebrities, including Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. In a dedicated black box gallery adjacent to the early Pop Art work, samples of Warhols films and videos will be on view including his series of Screen Tests featuring Ethel Scull, Edie Sedgwick and Billy Name (196465).
Subjects take a darker turn in Warhols Death and Disaster paintings (196364) memorializing car crashes, the electric chair and a benign yet sinister can of tuna fish contaminated with botulism. An eye-popping gallery filled with 16 colorful Flower paintings (1964) will be installed on top of Warhols Cow Wallpaper (1966) for a bold immersive experience. Visitors will have a chance to experience Silver Clouds, Warhols sculptural installation of shiny Mylar balloons created in 1966, the point at which he declared himself to be done with painting.
Warhols work of the 1970s and 1980s focuses on post-Pop artwork, which Garrels observes are very unknown to most people. In these galleries Warhol shifts his focus with a massive portrait of Chairman Mao (1972), followed by a gallery featuring photographs and paintings of trans women and drag queens from the 1970s, which provide a look into Warhols fascination with the elusiveness and complexity of gender and identity. A separate suite of photographic self-portraits of Warhol in drag provides a different view into the artists carefully cultivated persona. A large single gallery is dedicated to Warhols grand experiments with abstract painting, featuring a gold Shadow painting (1978) and two large-scale Rorschach paintings (1984). Warhols influence on the young artists of the East Village in the 1980s is highlighted through collaborative works created with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Also on display is an unpacked personal time capsule, one of 610 created over the course of the artists life.
Two galleries in the museums fifth floor Pop, Minimal and Figurative Art presentation feature a 1970s facebook of wall-to-wall grids of large-scale silk-screened portraits representing a whos who of celebrities, cultural icons, gallerists, athletes and business leaders. These galleries feature nearly 40 portraits such as Halston (1975), Dominique de Menil (1969), Liza Minnelli (1978), Pelé (1977), Leo Castelli (1975), Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1976) and Gianni Versace (197980), as well as the artists mother, Julia Warhola (1974). For the subject, a Warhol portrait provided social validation and an immediate status symbol; for Warhol these commissions were a consistent revenue stream that supported his studio and desire to explore other more personal ventures. Warhols television shows and videos are on display in the city gallery on this floor.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, PA in 1928. In 1949, he graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) with a Bachelor of Arts in pictorial design. Shortly after graduation, Warhol moved to New York City, where he would live for the rest of his life, and began what would become a vaunted career as a commercial artist, for which he earned numerous awards and accolades. Despite his commercial success, Warhol was determined to pursue a career as a fine artist. He first exhibited his work at the Hugo Gallery in 1952, though he did not gain recognition in the fine art world until 1962 when the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles staged his groundbreaking exhibition of Campbells Soup Can paintings. Through the 1960s, Warhol exhibited at Ferus, Stable Gallery, Castelli Gallery, Sonnabend Gallery and internationally to great acclaim. He established the Factory in 1963, the same year he began his pioneering work in film. In 1965, Warhol announced his retirement from painting to pursue filmmaking full-time; underground films such as Empire (1964) and The Chelsea Girls (1966) remain some of his most influential works.
In 1968, Warhol was shot in a near-fatal assassination attempt, but by 1969 he had founded Interview magazine and his interest in producing work across all media including sculpture, video and performance was reignited. In 1975, Warhol published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) and by the late 1970s had expanded his practice to cable television shows with Andy Warhols Fashion, Andy Warhols Fifteen Minutes and Andy Warhols T.V. Warhols work of the late 1970s and 1980s exhibits an increased interest in abstraction and collaboration and often reflexively returns to his own earlier work and iconography. His late work speaks to a voracious interest in current events and enthusiasm for artists from the East Village scene such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, with whom he collaborated. In February 1987, Warhol died after a brief illness following routine gallbladder surgery. The Andy Warhol Diaries, his infamous account of his own life from the mid-1970s up to his death, was published posthumously in 1991.
Major exhibitions during Warhols lifetime include his first institutional solo exhibition at the ICA Philadelphia in 1965, a 1968 exhibition at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, a 1970 retrospective organized by the Pasadena Art Museum, which traveled extensively and Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70s organized by the Whitney Museum in 197980. The final exhibition of his work during his lifetime, at Robert Miller Gallery, New York, in January 1987, debuted a new series of stitched photographs. Warhols work is collected by significant institutions across the world including major repositories at SFMOMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Tate, The Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum Brandhorst, Munich, The Museum Ludwig, Cologne, The Marx Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.