During my quick jaunt to Pittsburgh over the summer, I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to visit The Andy Warhol Museum—I’ve seen so much of his work over the years, I wasn’t entirely sure it would be worth the effort. I am happy to say I was convinced to make the effort and check out the museum because it is terrific! Warhol’s signature, bold Pop Art gems are well represented—the soup cans, celebrity portraits, flowers, electric chairs, skulls, cows… but there is so much more to see with 7 floors dedicated to showcasing his massive oeuvre.
Opened in 1994 in Pittsburgh, the city where Andrew Warhola was born, the Warhol museum is the “global keeper of Andy Warhol’s legacy.” The museum maintains 900 of the artists’ paintings, about 100 sculptures, approximately 2,000 works on paper, 1,000 prints, 4,000 photographs, 60 films, over 4,000 videos, and 200 of his Screen Tests.
The vast archives of Warhol’s personal belongings contain approximately half a million objects! The collection includes his library, art supplies, scrapbooks, correspondence, books, diaries, clothing, tchotchkes, approximately 4,000 audio tapes, over 30 of his shocking-white wigs, and more. The archives also contain an almost complete collection of Interview magazine, launched by Warhol in 1969, as well as 610 of the artist’s Time Capsules, a project started in 1974 in which he collected items from his daily life (newspapers, maps, fanzines, letters, pictures, trinkets, food…) and packed and sealed them away into cardboard boxes to be opened at a later time (the museum is cataloguing each Time Capsules’ contents and regularly exhibits items from one box.)
Highlights of the museum's incredibly comprehensive collection include Warhol’s student work from the 1940s, his early drawings [including 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy (sic), a sweet, illustrated book he collaborated on with his mother, Julia], and his commercial illustrations. These works, along with a series of childhood and family photographs, show another side of the artist—a simpler side that preceded his glamorous Factory/Studio 54 superstardom.
During my visit in August, the museum presented a special exhibition, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei which explored Warhol’s influence on Ai as well as the influence both artists have made on modern life. Juxtaposing several pieces of Ai’s artwork alongside Warhol’s throughout the museum, the exhibit compared the two artists’ works (i. e. how both documented their lives, created readymades a la Marcel Duchamp, and employed flowers to make provocative points) and how they address politics, capitalism, communism, and social issues.
If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, be sure to visit the Andy Warhol Museum—I’m definitely glad I did! Learn more about it at warhol.org. To see more on Warhol, see my post from 2010 here on Andy Warhol: The Last Decade at the Brooklyn Museum. To see more on Ai Weiwei click here for my post on his 2013 exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC and here for my post on his 2014 exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
So Happy, 1950s