Pop culture icon’s work displayed in new IMA exhibit

Andy Warhol was a Renaissance man.

While most know Warhol for his 1960s work, most notably his mass-produced silk screens of celebrities including Dennis Hopper and Marilyn Monroe, Warhol was also a director, band manager, business artist and media mogul.

Work from each phase of Warhol’s life is now being displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in the exhibit “Andy Warhol Enterprises.”

The exhibit, sponsored by Pittsburgh, Pa., based PNC Bank, was the idea of the company, which wanted an exhibit that displayed the financial aspects of Warhol and his work.

“We were offered the opportunity by PNC and we were overjoyed to oblige,” Sarah Green, IMA curator, said. “Warhol loved money and the sponsorship of the exhibit kind of implies that subject, so it works really well.”

When walking into the first room of the exhibit, it seems slightly strange. The room, “Andy Warhol: Commercial Artist,” features an early window display designed by Warhol along with many of his early drawings from the 1950s, shortly after he moved to New York City.

These drawings are mostly sketch-like in nature and hardly look like they came from the same man who produced the bright screen prints of soup cans and supermodels.

Warhol’s commercial work includes drawings for Glamour magazine (one of his earliest clients), Interiors Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Vogue magazine and Tiffany’s.

“I think in this show you get to see his early work, which is unique,” Green said. “You really get to see the seedlings of his early work and get a full picture of the diverse business he had.”

Walking into the second part of the exhibit, “Andy Warhol: Pop Artist,” more recognizable pieces come into view.

From a box screen printed with his famous Campbell’s soup cans to a self portrait in his traditional silkscreen on a solid-colored, bright background, the room features more “typical” Warhol pieces.

The adjacent room, “Andy Warhol: Portratist,” focuses on Warhol’s infamous portraits which featured such celebrities as Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy. A series of five Monroe silkscreens in various colors is displayed  alongside portraits of Hopper, Frederick and Marcia Weisman and a few of his “Flowers” paintings.

A posting beside a few of these portraits notes that The Factory—Warhol’s New York City studio located in what is now Union Square—was open to anyone willing to pay the $25,000 price tag for one of his portraits.

Beside the portraits room is a dark room, painted black and dimly lit so viewers can enjoy—or stare in confusion—at the section titled “Andy Warhol: Filmmaker.”

The room features Warhol’s “Screen Tests,” recorded between 1964 and 1966.

The art is nothing more than extended, stationary shots of Hopper, Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Lou Reed, various other Velvet Underground band members and an assortment of other  celebrities and pseudo-celebrities who Warhol filmed displaying varying emotions.

A second film in the room, displayed on a smaller television set, is “Soap Opera.”It was shot in 1964 and was Warhol’s first film featuring supermodel Jane Holzer, who appeared in several subsequent films.

The next section of the exhibit, though small, is titled “Andy Warhol: Band Manager,” and features pieces of Andy Warhol’s work as the main promoter of the band The Velvet Underground.

Something is a little bit special about this area:  it includes an original copy of The Velvet Underground’s first album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” with cover art by Warhol himself.

The second to last room is a combination of two sections, “Andy Warhol: Business Artist,” and “Andy Warhol: Media Mogul.”

The room features drawings from later in Warhol’s life, including several drawings of shoes. The exhibit quotes Warhol as saying he wanted to go back to his roots and what made him famous, leading him to do several shoe and fashion drawings like those featured in the initial section of the exhibit.

The room also features Warhol’s work from the early 1980s, including a television playing his program “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes,” a show that explored art and popular culture of the day.

It also includes a selection of advertisements in which Warhol is the spokesman, including such companies as Sony, Bloomingdale’s, Pioneer and Neiman Marcus.

The room is a hodge podge of work, displaying the many media Warhol attempted to conquer during the latter years of his career and life.

The final room, “Andy Warhol: Icon,” is a collection of self-portraits from varying points in the pop artist’s career. The portraits are all done in his signature, silkscreen style. They’re the mass producible masterpieces that made the man.

“The combination of business and art is rather unique,” Steve Stitle, PNC regional president for Indiana, said. “[Warhol] commercialized a lot of things and this show is unique in its broad spectrum of work it displays.

“It’s an exhibit for everyone, and what a beautiful place we have to show it.”

The exhibit opened Sunday and runs through Jan. 2.

It has seven rooms with a focus on Warhol as a business man and entrepreneur, Candace Gwaltney, IMA public relations manager, said.

Though admission to the IMA is free, the exhibit costs $14 to non-IMA members. Student memberships are available for $25.

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