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American Icons at the Warhol

 

January 17, 2012



Warhol and Cars: American Icons is the first exhibition to examine Warhol's enduring fascination with automotive vehicles as products of American consumer society.

This exhibition on display from February 5 to May 13, features more than 40 drawings, paintings, photographs, and related archival material spanning from 1946 to 1986. As one of the most iconic and influential artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol has helped to define America. His signature images of such American products and celebrities as Campbell's soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor have become instantly recognizable.

The majority of the work in the exhibition is from The Andy Warhol Museum's collection.

The exhibition, organized by the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, traces the development of Warhol's work with cars throughout his career. Warhol and Cars highlights include drawing created in the 1940s; works on paper of the 1950s, as well as paintings and prints from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

An original BMW M-1 racing car that was hand-painted by Warhol will be on display in the entrance gallery. A film of Warhol painting a BMW in 1979 as part of the BMW Art Race Car Projects introduced by French race car driver Herve Poulin will be on view during the exhibition. The car is part of the BMW Museum's collection in Munich and was last displayed in the United States at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 2009.

An exhibition catalogue published by the Montclair Art Museum, Warhol and Cars: American Icons, written by Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator, is the first to focus on Warhol's Cadillac paintings and other car-themed works within the context of his career. The catalog is available at The Warhol Store.

Arne Svenson, a New York photographer working in collaboration with The Warhol, created a series of portraits on view in the exhibition About Face. In February 2011, Mr. Svenson was the artist-in-residency at Pittsburgh's Wesley Spectrum Highland, an Approve Private School for students with special needs, grades 4 – 12.

Mr. Svenson's residency, which led to this exhibition, is part of an ongoing partnership with Mr. Svenson, The Warhol, the Cognitive Psychology Department at the University of Victoria, British Colombia, and Wesley Spectrum Highland. The goal of this partnership is to improve autistic youth's communication skills by developing and piloting activities that utilize Warhol's portraits and the practice of contemporary portrait artists to teach facial recognition skills to students within the autism spectrum.

The exhibition features three-dimensional, large-format photographs which are fixed open at a 55 degree angle, and mounted directly the gallery walls. From one perspective the viewer sees only a neutral portrait of the student, while from the other angle one views an open spread, which reveals an expressive image of the student and an accompanying emotional motivator.

Motivators range from an image of a birthday party to a spider. For Mr. Svenson, "the photo sessions with the students were not only central to the final project, but the time we spent working together became an essential component of the process and learning experience. They responded well, engaged beautifully, and, as I told each one as he or she left the studio, are the true stars of this project."

About Face

is curated by Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at The Warhol.

 

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