Updated: 2008-05-23 14:30
The glamor and fame precedes Warhol, and perhaps that's the way it should be. Nevertheless, it's impossible to bypass the fact that Warhol subversively altered the course of contemporary art by demolishing the chasm between "high" art and consumer culture. Warhol infused art with everyday American objects—most famously Campbell's Soup cans – creating easy to reproduce images that were conceptually accessible to all viewers, not just the elites running the art world. Deeming his workspace a "Factory," Warhol also revamped the process of artistic creation, which he turned into a manufacturing business that employed dozens of workers.
The King of Pop Art show first appeared earlier this year for the grand opening of Art+Beijing gallery in 798 Art District where it drew more than 5000 visitors. Curated to mimic Warhol's "Factory" space, the exhibition is expertly swathed in aluminum, whisking the viewer back to New York, 1960-something. Among other delightful items on display is The Souper Dress (1968), a cellulose and cotton garment cut 90 centimeters in length, in Campbell's Soup print. The 20th century woman doesn't slave over home-cooked soups. In fact, she doesn't even serve them up from a can—she just dons the image.
It is a small wonder the "Angels" series cleared customs. These early works (1950s) are offset lithographs with hand coloring and the motif is gleefully naughty cherubs caught up in any variety of salacious acts that Warhol has euphemistically titled as "Playful" and "Dancing."
"It" girls, silver wigs, Hollywood, Marilyn, Studio 54…what does all of it amount to? Was the Warholian rejection of profundity part of the master plan? Is a Campbell's Soup dress art? Is it acceptable practice for an artist to hire "assistants" to make his work for him? Did Warhol ultimately succumb to the pitfalls of consumerism? Perhaps questions are irrelevant when a glitzy party awaits in the wings.
Andy Warhol: The King of Pop Exhibitionruns from May 24 through June 19 at Art+Shanghai, 1295 Fuxing Lu, Bldg 75, Room 101 at the end of the lane.
Andy Warhol: The Party starts at 10pm Friday May 23 at Villa ORO