Museum-wide survey lays bare the biographical underpinnings of Andy Warhol's achievements
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Museum-wide survey lays bare the biographical underpinnings of Andy Warhol's achievements
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962. Acrylic, silkscreen ink and pencil online, 81 x 57 inches each (two panels) 205.7 x 144.8 cm © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © Tate.

ASPEN, CO.- The Aspen Art Museum is the sole U.S. venue for Andy Warhol: Lifetimes, bringing this major international retrospective to a city that maintained close, long-standing connections with the artist and his work. Organized by Tate Modern and Museum Ludwig, Cologne in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario and AAM, the exhibition focuses on the biographical underpinnings of Warhol’s practice, expanding on lesser-known aspects of his work and persona. On view through March 27, 2022, the exhibition breaks new ground by casting a queer eye on the artist as an outsider and disruptor, who remade America’s image to resonate with his sensibility.

Informed by the vernacular of celebrity, driven by consumerism, and bound together by new forms of media, Warhol’s four decades of work tapped into a culture fundamentally affixed to images and aspiration. Organized thematically with more than 200 of his works, Andy Warhol: Lifetimes serves as an encounter with Warhol’s output over the whole of his career, juxtaposing eras of the artist’s production in each gallery to propose connections among divergent bodies of work and gain insight into Warhol’s primary concerns.

The Aspen Art Museum’s presentation is structured to examine the artist’s life in parallel with his work, presenting them side by side to expand the public’s understanding of Warhol through biographical archival materials in tandem with artistic source materials and documentation of initial installations that return us to the foundations of the canonical works on display. In keeping with the Museum’s artist-centered approach, AAM invited artist Monica Majoli to re-conceptualize the staging of the exhibition from its previous iterations.

AAM Director Nicola Lees said, “The Aspen Art Museum is delighted to present this intimate portrayal of Andy Warhol, which peers into the spectral persona that the artist created so he could transcend his personal limitations, generating a cultural myth, mirror, and decoder that has enchanted the modern world for decades. By presenting his canonical works alongside archival and direct source materials, the exhibition will give viewers an unprecedented opportunity to examine Warhol’s life and work in the context of one another, ultimately establishing a new appreciation for this visionary artist of incomparable importance.”

Monica Majoli said, “Everyone has their own vision of Andy Warhol, an elusive figure who is virtually synonymous with American popular culture of the late 20th century. Even after his untimely death in 1987, Warhol continues to inform our contemporary moment through his prescient, uncanny grasp of the drama and consequences of capitalism on the American psyche.”

Jane and Marc Nathanson, longtime champions of the Aspen Art Museum and founders of the Museum’s Artists in Residence Program, said, “We are delighted to play a role in bringing the landmark retrospective Andy Warhol: Lifetimes to the Aspen Art Museum. The exhibition will offer visitors new perspectives on the visionary figure who provided the world with a unique window into American popular culture and his prolific career. Knowing Warhol’s own interest in the Aspen region, it’s particularly fitting that the AAM should be the American destination for this major international show.”

Highlights of the gallery themes and associated installations include:

· After and Before: introducing Warhol’s biography, this comprehensive display showcases archival materials alongside some of his most recognizable Pop Art works, from those depicting Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to examples of important series such as 100 Campbell’s Soup Cans, 129 Die, and Flowers, in addition to highlights of his work on Interview and Warhol TV.

· Wanting: expounding on Warhol’s queer identity through an installation of diverse works from the late 1950s to the late 1980s, with romantic ink drawings of male subjects in the 1950s alongside a large-scale Oxidation Painting, 1978, a sprawling four-panel painting Camouflage, 1986, and a projection of his landmark film Sleep, in addition to examples from his Sex Parts and Torso series

· Freedom: exploring the sense of liberation in the commissioned series Ladies and Gentlemen, 1975, shown in full, in concert with a large-scale projection of the nearly hour-long film Factory Diary: Andy in Drag, 2 October 1981 by Christopher Makos

· Capture: evoking darker components of Warhol’s life and artistic production, with a grid of 26 Screentests from the 1960s highlighting the Factory’s superstars and other celebrated cultural figures juxtaposed with a selection of Warhol’s lesser-known serial photographs from 1986 to 1987 sewn together into a grid formation

· Exploding Plastic Inevitable: re-creating the live events Warhol produced between 1966 and 1967 featuring light shows, stroboscopes, and slide and film projections, through an immersive multichannel projection and sound work that includes the music of the Velvet Underground and Nico and performances by Edie Sedgewick, Gerald Malanga, and Barbara Rubin

· Clouds: featuring ten silkscreen prints on paper from the 1971 series Electric Chair hung salon style on sueded silver mylar walls; a muted reflection of Warhol’s Silver Clouds that occupy the corridor leading into gallery 1, After and Before.

Warhol and Aspen

The exhibition at AAM continues a link between the artist and the city dating back to 1966, when Warhol came to present his work at the Aspen Institute. That same year, he designed and edited the third issue of Aspen Magazine (1965-71), creating a multimedia magazine-in-a-box.

Over the years Warhol made the effort to ski Buttermilk Mountain and partied at Aspen’s beloved Andre’s Club, which he likened to Studio 54. At the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts (ACVA), the precursor to the Aspen Art Museum, Warhol’s work was featured in the Center’s inaugural exhibition in 1979 and was the subject of a solo show in 1984, which was Colorado’s last museum exhibition of Warhol’s work.

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