It is almost a sign of a bad taste when you like something very popular, like Andy Warhol for example (laughing). But it seems like I can call myself a bit of an expert when it comes to Andy. It’s been quite a long time since I call myself a big lover of pop art. I can’t remember when exactly I became so drawn by Andy Warhol’s work, but it feels like I have had this almost supernatural connection between my soul and Andy for all of my conscious life. So as soon as I heard there is an exhibition coming to Beijing, of course I knew I had to be there!
Andy had a history with China, he’s been to Beijing and Hong Kong and created several art pieces dedicated to China’s theme. One of them is portrait of Mao Zedong. Unfortunately “ Maos won’t work,” said Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. “This is disappointing because his imagery is so mainstream in Chinese contemporary art” he states. But there are many rarely displayed pieces are showcased at the first exhibition in China to focus on the experimental, mechanically produced areas of Warhol's practice. "Andy Warhol: Contact" features photographs, installations, and films that broke the boundaries of contemporary art when they were first made, and still compel viewers today with their extraordinary immediacy.
Matthew Israel: “Unlike most artists of the 20th century or history for that matter, Warhol worked in great depth and did not simply dabble in many different forms of media. For example, in addition of being a Pop painter, as he is still characteristically known by most of the population as a filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a band-leader (if that’s the word to characterize his involvement with the Velvet Underground), a TV soap opera producer, a window designer, a celebrity actor and model, an installation artist, a commercial illustrator, an artist’s book creator, a magazine editor and publisher, a businessman of sorts, a stand-up comedian of sorts, an exhibition curator, a collector and archivist, the creator of his own carefully honed celebrity image, and so on...Warhol, in short, was what we might loosely call a “Renaissance man”.
Andy left several autobiography books, however many facts about his life are still contradicting. He was really shy in the public, so it was a miracle to get open answers in the interview. He was a man of mysteries; maybe this was exactly the key to the huge interest from the media.
With Warhol all of this changed, as Art, as he liked to say, turned into Art Business, and he manipulated the mass media. Warhol understood media’s cult of personality, and he capitalized on this through his incredible ability to attract attention, or by being, in the words of curator Kynaston McShine, “in all the right places at all the right times.” Furthermore, Warhol always was with all the right people at all the right times, and he even said the perfect, catchy thing at all the right moments.
According to his biographers Victor Bockris and Wayne Koestenbaum, this was an idea that Warhol believed in and helped enforce though it was often not at all evident to some. For example, Bockris writes: “Andy was interested in denigrating the concept of heterosexual coupling as the be-all and end-all of sex, and present homosexuality as a normal practice.”
Photography by Olga Rybas
Andre Leon Talley 1984, (right) Karl Lagerfeld,Jane Forth and Donna Jordan 1970 (not part of "Contact "exhibition )
Mohammed Ali 1984, Grace Jones 1984, John Lennon 1971, Self Portrait 1981