(by VEERA RUSTOMJI)
As the city of New York sprawls over its coast, the ever expanding cityscape has always been known as a melting pot of an influx of cultures and ethnicities. Perhaps the most diverse city known to mankind, the city thrives and reverberates of the desi taxi drivers' horns and the fusion of music playing across every footpath. Each location has countless restaurants serving up literally any cuisine, from authentic Lebanese food drowned in chilli oil to instant pancakes whipped up with honey and cream. Between the lines of these interconnected lifestyles and the multitude of races, one facet of the city seems to speak the same language to everyone – art.
The billboards advertising sales at the high street stores, posters protesting against the government, architecture of the squalid homes or the towering buildings which seem to disappear into the clouds or the style of apparel executed differently on any walking body, everybody seems to have their own sense of 'art'. Of course it depends on how hard you look for the art in everything. A legendary artist, who embraces and embodies the very essence of New York culture, was especially known for his unique skill of extracting the art out of the mundane. Andy Warhol, a man who is recognised as a modern day philosopher in his field of work continuously seeps his influence into the canvases of art students across the globe and his work (or prints) continuously adorn the walls of homes and museums internationally.
In an attempt to revitalise not only Andy Warhol's work, but sixty artists inspired and influenced by his creativity, The Metropolitan Museum in New York City is on its way to conceive one of the biggest exhibitions the city has yet to see, 'Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years' by September 18th, 2012. Clearly, this is a highly anticipated exhibit for not just art enthusiasts, but for designers and the throngs of tourists which flood the city streets all twelve months of the year.
Conceptually speaking, Andy Warhol's groundbreaking style of 'pop art' has over time been applied to more themes and subjects the artist had thought of during his life. The unilateral and diverse nature of pop art has the power to combine cultures which have nothing to do and everything to do with the American way of life. For instance the symbolic and powerful use of colour in Warhol's work, his decisions to simply divide, contrast and catch the attention of his viewers through block colours is a very old technique which he revived and made possible for the modern artist to reuse.
Writer Ted Loos in an article quotes curators and organisers and names a few artists who will be displaying at the Metropolitan, "Twenty-five years after his death, it's still Andy Warhol's world; we're just living in it. He brazenly appropriated commercial images and addressed the culture of fame head-on, in eye grabbing compositions that feel utterly contemporary. Now the Metropolitan Museum of Art weighs in on his legacy with 'Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years'. The approximately 150-work show mixes Warhol's pieces with those by artists he influenced – a long list including Cindy Sherman, Damien Hurst, and Ai Weiwei.
"We wanted to look at the ways he has permeated culture," says the Met's Marla Prather who organised the show with independent curator Mark Rosenthal. Works range from the pop master's own camouflage-overlaid Self Portrait, from 1986, to Betye Saar's The Liberation of Aunt Jemima 1972, which took a page from Warhol's playbook by imagining what stereotypical syrup icon would look like toting a gun. A certain ambitious restlessness remains at the root of his achievement.
"Warhol pioneered the idea that art can take you anywhere," says Prather, "Wouldn't you love to know what he would have done with the internet?"
Already gaining popularity with the press, the exhibition is clearly going to be one of the most covered exhibitions and judging by the amount of articles which are investigating into the show, attempting to excavate as many sneak previews and information as they can, there is sure to be substantial literature on the event, once it opens.
The Metropolitan Museum's website states that "The show will be arranged as a series of thematic vignettes, not simply to demonstrate Warhol's overt influence, but to suggest how artists both worked in parallel modes and developed his model in dynamic new directions." To elaborate on this statement and thematic stratification, The Culture Concept Circle website released literature on the exhibition exploring the 'thematic vignettes'. Writer Carolyn McDowall lists the themes as, Daily News: From Banality to Disaster, Portraiture: Celebrity and Power, Queer Studies: Camouflage and Shifting Identities, Consuming Images: Appropriation, Abstraction, and Seriality and No Boundaries: Business, Collaboration, and Spectacle.
Furthermore, what is more interesting to uncover within the anticipation of the exhibition, is the book "Regarding Warhol Sixty Artists, Fifty Years" which is to be released on August 27th 2012, one of the distributers being the Yale University Press. The arrangement of the multitude of artists influenced by Warhol through the thematic vignettes (which can be easily redefined as visual dialogues, narrowing down the highly conversational art) are justified by the Yale Press website as "These juxtapositions not only demonstrate Warhol's overt influence but also suggest how artists have either worked in parallel modes or developed his model in dynamic new directions."
The exhibition clearly has high expectations from international museums and all Andy Warhol fans across the globe. Some will be glued to their computer screens taking visual tours of the exhibition and tracking down every piece on the internet, others will be fortunate enough to be in the city at the time of the exhibition which will continue till the last day of this year. Pioneering above the pop art culture in not just New York City but across every hub of art flourishing across the world, it isn't hard to imagine that Andy Warhol must be pretty pleased with his legacy.