The Fralin hosts Warhol exhibit

Warhol prints on display at University art museum until September


Subjects of the Warhol prints include Venus, Saint Apollonia, Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe and a series of cowboys and Indians.

Courtesy University of Virginia

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University is showing several of Andy Warhol’s famous prints from May to September of 2016.

The exhibition, “Andy Warhol: Icons,” presents silkscreens and screen prints created by Warhol in the 1960s through the 1980s. Subject matters that were repeated and reproduced by Warhol include Venus, Saint Apollonia, Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe and a series of cowboys and Indians.

KC Maurer, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, said Warhol was an ambitious artist for his time.

“He worked in a variety of media in the 1980s, including portraits, drawings, photographs and screen prints,” Maurer said. “He took on many subject matters that many were not interested in. He was a brave artist. He was prolific.”

Rebecca Schoenthal, curator of exhibitions and co-interim director at the Fralin, said an icon does not necessarily have to be a celebrity — an idea Warhol applied in his works.

“‘Icon’ is not a synonym for celebrity. In certain instances the two are linked, and possibly interchangeable,” Schoenthal said. “It’s that aspect that is at play in the concept of the exhibition, but it also ties back into the original definition of an icon.”

Warhol did not only portray famous people — he also included mundane objects, such as soup cans and dollar bills, in his prints.

“If an icon can be defined as an image, picture or representation, it can also refer to a person or thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community or cultural movement,” reads the introduction to the exhibition. “He parlayed the ubiquity of his pop art objects and subjects into a shorthand for his work and therefore himself.”

Among the works on exhibit, six were gifts from the Foundation.

“In celebration of the the Foundation’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the Foundation gave away 28,000 photographs to 195 college and university art museums,” Maurer said.

Warhol is widely regarded as the most recognizable artist from the 20th century. His range of works use several unique techniques which the exhibit addresses.

In his “Reigning Queens” series, for example, Warhol applied diamond dust to Queen Elizabeth’s tiara.

“Warhol is playing with different interpretations and understandings of value, i.e. the cultural capital of the subject, Queen Elizabeth, the value of the piece as an artwork, the value of the piece as a ‘Warhol’ — both of which are volatile and often subjective valuations — and then the more concrete value of the diamond component which is akin to hard currency.” Schoenthal said.

Warhol’s works have a wide appeal, and they remain relevant today, Maurer said.

“Many people say Andy’s polaroids and his photographs were harbingers for selfies to go. His works were precursors of works that we see on social media.” Maurer added. “He would have embraced social media.”

The exhibition will continue until Sept. 18 at the Fralin. 

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