MONTREAL.- For the first time in the historiography of Andy Warhol (1928-1987), the exhibition-event Warhol Live, presented from September 25, 2008, to January 18, 2009, will explore the all-pervading and fundamental role of music and dance in the artists work and life. Music is an essential narrative element that is present throughout the exhibition and will guide visitors as they rediscover Warhols work. From this unusual angle, viewers will be treated to a chronological and thematic reading, from the film music Warhol discovered in his youth to the disco scene at Studio 54, the legendary nightclub that opened in 1977, where he was one of the most famous regulars. The exhibition will bring together some 640 works and objects, paintings, silkscreens, photographs, works on paper, installations, films, videos, album covers, as well as objects and documents from the artists personal archives. It will juxtapose Warhols major emblematic works (Elvis, Marilyn, Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, the Self-portraits and the Campbell's Soup Cans) with other, lesser-known works (album covers, illustrations, photos and Polaroids). There are also the artists films, including Sleep and Empire, as well as the Screen Tests of the musicians of the famous Velvet Underground, Andy Warhols TV and video clips produced for groups like The Cars and Curiosity Killed the Cat. The exhibition Warhol Live is produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
The works come from The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and from leading public and private collections in Europe and North America. A collection of some fifty album covers belonging to Montreal collector Paul Maréchal will be presented together for the first time. It includes The Velvet Underground & Nico, Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones), Love You Live (Rolling Stones), Silk Electric (Diana Ross), Aretha (Aretha Franklin) and Rockbird (Debbie Harry).
Music: An Essential Part of Warhols Work
While Warhols interest in music comes across highly anecdotally and briefly in his Journal and his numerous interviews, music and its representation in his work is remarkable and predominant: it is an invisible yet essential component.
From a drawing in 1948 for the cover of Cano the student magazine at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which depicts an orchestra in the blotted line technique to the celebrity portraits of Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Prince, Warhol created dozens of portraits of twentieth-century pop icons, from Elvis to the Rolling Stones, from the Beatles to Michael Jackson, throughout his career. From 1949, the year he arrived in New York, to 1987, the last year of his life, he also illustrated some fifty album covers, from Tchaikovskys Swan Lake to Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross and Blondie. Attesting to Warhols changing commissions and affinities, the thread that runs through this iconography reads like a history of postwar American musical tastes, from classical to jazz, rock, pop and soul, disco and hip-hop.
In Warhols world, music goes far beyond mere iconography. Warhol orchestrated the All Tomorrow's Parties at the Silver Factory, providing an ideal, ephemeral stage for Edie Sedgwick, his moving muse and first alter ego; he served as a producer for the Velvet Underground; he made an artistic contribution to Merce Cunninghams choreography Rain Forest; he turned Studio 54 into an extension of his studio. Set to music, the invisible art that animates bodies and situates beings in space and in their time, he imagined the entire work of art that was Exploding Plastic Inevitable. He imagined himself in Sculpture Invisible. He used music in his films and filmed concerts. He produced music videos and met with musicians, notably for Interview, the magazine he founded in 1969. And above all, through the play of mirrors and osmosis he projected on his contemporaries, he himself became a rock star equal to Mick Jagger or Debbie Harry, his final inspiration.
Guillaume de Fontenays exhibition design will evoke some of the highlights in this relationship between art and music through reconstitutions that, while not exact re-creations like period rooms, will provide a closer look at the Silver Factory, with a mise en scène by photographer Billy Name, the multimedia show Exploding Plastic Inevitable to music by the Velvet Underground, Silver Clouds created for Merce Cunninghams choreography Rain Forest to music by David Tudor, and the musical ambience of Studio 54, a veritable extension of Warhols studio from the 1970s to the end of his life.
The exhibition is curated by Stéphane Aquin, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Emma Lavigne, curator at the Musée national dart moderne/CCI, Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Matt Wrbican, archivist at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Greg Pierce, assistant curator, The Andy Warhol Museum, put together the exhibitions film and video programming.