The pop-art images of Marilyn Monroe and Cambell's soup cans are situated in the Cosmos section. Photo Tara Booth / Culture24
Review – Tara Booth takes a walk through the swinging sixties at Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms at The Hayward Gallery, London, until January 18 2009.
No artist living in the second half of the 20th century has made a deeper impression on popular culture than Andy Warhol.
Almost two decades on from Andy Warhol: A Retrospective (1989), The Hayward Gallery, London, attempts to shed new light on the provocative artist, with many lesser-known works, in Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms.
(Above) Andy Warhol Outer and Inner Space, 1965, 16mm film, blackand white, sound, 33 minutes in double screen. © 2008 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA , a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved
Taking its title from a novel of self-discovery by Truman Capote, who Warhol greatly admired, the exhibition reveals many different facets of Warhol and the enormous scope of his work.
The quintessential pop-art images of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans are just the tip of the iceberg, as previously unseen video footage and ephemera seek to teach the visitor not just of his works, but also of his persona and exploration of life.
“We are delighted to be hosting an exhibition that radically redefines the nature of Andy Warhol’s importance,” says Ralph Rugoff, Director of The Hayward.
“Andy was such a multi-faceted artist that every era can rediscover its own Warhol, and this exhibition offers an innovative and insightful exploration not just of his extraordinary artistic achievement, but also of his pioneering way of looking at both art and the world.”
Postcards and letters addressed to the Factory in New York, are situated in glass cases. Photo Tara Booth / Culture24
It’s immediately apparent how the gallery space lends itself to the artist and his works. The ceilings are high and the atmosphere dark and brooding. Colour bounces off the walls while screen shots of people are animated in television screens. It’s almost like a reworking of his infamous Factory studio in New York, complete with glamorous entourage, bought alive for his following today.
The installation exhibition is divided into three sections, with the starting point being Cosmos, an overview of the various media and techniques with which Warhol worked.
It provides a real insight into Warhol’s character and his constructed universe, showcasing a collection of ephemera, including letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, drawings, books, paintings and sound recordings.
© 2008 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA , a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved
(Above) Andy Warhol Mario Banana (No.2), 1964, 16mm film, black and white, silent, 4 minutes at 16 frames per second.
His infatuation with documenting celebrities is apparent with Polaroid snapshots of icons including Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones and his muse, Edie Sedgwick, displayed in glass cases. It serves as a reminder of Warhol’s star status and elite following plus his fascination with life and voyeurism.
In the centre of the space are three screens, hung from the ceiling, documenting forty silent portrait screen tests, bringing the room alive with an added feel of nostalgia.
As one of the most photographed artists of the 20th century, it’s only necessary to have a whole room dedicated to the artist. Sultrily painted red, the room exudes a certain egotistical feel, but it’s hard to dislike. It’s a room that takes you further into the artist’s life and raison d’être.
The exhibition also houses a display of photographs detailing events in Warhol's life. © Marcus Leith
In one photograph, Warhol provocatively poses in a similar style to the book sleeve for Truman Capote’s novel Other Voices Other Rooms, while in another he is slumped in a stretcher being treated at the scene where Valerie Solanas shot him.
Continuing from there is a bizarre installation of Silver Clouds; a room of helium-filled metallic reflecting balloons for the visitor to interact with. With a large window on one wall, it’s a clever attempt of a real-life and real-time film of visitors’ reactions and interactions with the installation.
Silver Clouds 1966. A room of helium-filled metallic plastic balloons. © Marcus Leith
“Andy Warhol once wondered about how it would be if one mirror would reflect another,” explained curator Eva Meyer-Hermann. “He declared that everything which we want to know can be seen on the surfaces of him and his works.”
“I thought I had to look behind these surfaces, but realised that what we are looking for is not behind, but in front of them. Warhol’s surfaces reflect the world; his works are about you and me.”
“The exhibition puts him into a social and society context. It seeks to strip Andy Warhol as a brand and cliché and investigates ideas of the artist today and how highly influential he is,” she adds.
In another division entitled Filmscape, 19 of Warhol’s most famous films are showcased in a brooding cinematic landscape, including Horse, 1965, Chelsea Girls, 1966, and the sexually provocative Mario Banana (No. 1), 1964.
While representing a fifth of his entire experimental movies, the room showcases a selection of Warhol’s voyeuristic tendencies, encompassing common themes of sex, power and success.
In Filmscape, there are 19 films playing on continuous loop. © Marcus Leith
In TV-Scape, the third division in the gallery, there are 42 television programmes Warhol made between 1979 and 1989 for cable TV stations in New York and MTV.
Featuring interviews with Rob Lowe, Debbie Harry and Jerry Hall, it’s an environment focused on fashion, popular music, art and stardom. Even the star-shaped seats resemble the Hollywood walk of fame.
In TV-Scape there are 42 television programmes to see. © Marcus Leith
While it’s all down to Warhol’s vision and fascination with celebrity, it provides a great insight into the thoughts and experiences of the people affiliated with him at the time. It’s a perfect end to reminisce while appreciating Warhol’s work.
While it’s certainly eclectic and never forgets Warhol’s eccentricity, the exhibition delves deeper into the character of the artist, revealing the man behind the brand and his egalitarian maxim, ‘all is pretty’.