Shore and Mapplethorpe's Warhol photos feature in new show
Museum exhibition includes wallpaper, posters and candid snaps to capture Andy’s production line approach
In the early 1960s, Andy Warhol showed his friend, the filmmaker Emile de Antonio, two paintings he had made. They both depicted Coke bottles.
“One had expressive hatched marks and the other did not,” explains Joseph D Kettner II in our Warhol Phaidon Focus book. “In his emphatic manner, de Antonio told him, ‘Andy, the abstract one is a piece of shit, the other one is remarkable. It’s our society, it’s who we are, it’s absolutely beautiful and naked, and you ought to destroy the first one and show the other one.’”
Warhol took Emile’s advice, abandoning the drippy, painterly style that had been fashionable, to favour a mechanized approach that, as Kettner puts it “concealed his touch.”
This mechanized style is the focus of a new exhibition at the Museo Picasso in Malaga. Entitled Warhol. Mechical Art, the show majors on his production line approach, the overlap between his commercial work and his fine artistry, and his marketable manipulation of his image.
There are record covers, posters, wallpaper, and magazines on show beside the Campbell’s cans screen prints, and Marilyn screen prints, as well as a workshop where gallery goers can try a little screen printing themselves.
However, one of the most illuminating sections of the show doesn’t feature work produced by Warhol directly. In a section entitled 24 Ways of Looking at Warhol, the show’s curators have selected Warhol portraits by two dozen photographers, including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Weegee, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Stephen Shore.
Not every picture is a formal portrait – there are plenty of snap shots, and private scenes in there too – yet viewed together they show how Andy, viewed from almost any angle, offered as smooth and uniform a public persona as that early, factory-fresh Coke bottle painting.
To see many more of Stephen Shore's photographs, order a copy of his book Factory: Andy Warhol; to see Mapplethorpe's work get Mapplethorpe Flora: The Complete Flowers; and for much more Andy go here.