Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-cola bottles and Marilyn Monroe. Welcome to the world of Andy Warhol, currently on display at Taiwan Democracy Hall (formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) through March 29.
For its Taipei show, the touring exhibition has assembled more than 120 pieces made, certified or signed by Warhol, making it almost twice as large as the exhibition’s European tours, which ended in Italy last year, according to curator Hsu Fen-land (徐芬蘭).
“We are all too familiar with Warhol’s art, but what we see in magazines is nowhere near the original works. I always tell people to appreciate the displays from the side so as to see the layers of prints that convey a remarkable amount of details and refinements,” said Hsu, who is also a manager at Timsort, S. L., one of the three European art and cultural agencies that organized the exhibition to commemorate what would have been the artist’s 80th birthday.
This is the first large-scale exhibition in Taiwan that systematically introduces Warhol’s work to the country. Hsu presents Warhol as an artist known for breaking conventions through his innovative creative ventures.
Warhol took pop art to a new level, from making art out of mass-produced commodities to mass producing art itself — art, moreover, that could be owned and enjoyed by the masses as exemplified in his Campbell’s Soup Dress (1968) and Campbell’s Soup Can on Shopping Bag (1966), as well as Banana (1966) and the album cover for The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967).
The exhibition begins with works from Warhol’s lesser-known early period in 1950s, during which time the son of working-class immigrants from Czechoslovakia had already achieved a measure of success in New York City as a commercial illustrator. An important work that contains all the archetypal elements of what would later become Warhol’s signature style, A Golden Book (1957), comprises 20 hand-bound drawings created using the blotted-line technique that was characteristic of the artist’s early works. The technique, which involved drawing in ink on a non-absorbent surface and then pressing a piece of paper to the surface before the ink dried, gave the resulting work a graphic look and was an early indication of Warhol’s interest in duplication and repetition.
WHAT: Andy Warhol (普普教父—安迪．沃荷世界巡迴展)
WHERE: Chungcheng Gallery (中正藝廊), 21 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21號)
WHEN: Until March 29
TICKETS: NT$250 for adults, NT$200 for students, NT$120 for senior citizens aged 65 and up. Free for children shorter than 110cm
ON THE NET: www.mediasphere.com.tw/andy-warhol
Another section of the exhibition is dedicated to Warhol’s portraits of famous people that characterized much of his output in the 1970s. These wow-inducing displays include Mao (1972), Jimmy Carter (1975) and Liza Minnelli (1978). A portrait of Mick Jagger (1975) is co-signed by the artist and his model, another first in art history.
Also on display is the Space Fruit series (1978), which was screen-printed on Plexiglas, and Jose Beuys (1981), which was screen-printed on a laundry bag, both of which show Warhol’s experimentation with new materials.
Meanwhile, After Munch (1984) serves as an example of Warhol revisiting the worlds of great figures in the history of Western art, such as Edvard Munch and Leonardo da Vinci.
Because of budgetary restraints, Warhol’s films, his work as a music producer, and his interest in religion, as seen in Last Supper (1986), are left unexplored. And Hsu’s original plan to project Warhol’s image of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) onto the vast white walls outside Taiwan Democracy Hall was aborted because it was too “politically sensitive.”