#59 Andy Warhol: Sex, Death, Beauty and Disaster
Andy Warhol is one of the best-known—but perhaps least understood—artists of the 20th century. “Warhol shifted the paradigm. He shifted the conversation. That's why we're still grappling with him. Love him or hate him,” says Donna De Salvo, the senior curator and deputy director for International Initiatives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, who recently organized the blockbuster exhibition "Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again" (on show now at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, until 2 September).
Beyond the glamour of the celebrity and consumerism so often associated with Warhol, there is something destabilizing about his work, says Dominique Lévy, the co-founder of Lévy Gorvy—which is showing “Warhol Women” in New York (until 15 June). “If you spend enough time in front of a Warhol painting, little by little it unnerves you,” Lévy says.
"When people fetishize the trophy of the Marilyn, they're missing a certain point of the way that Warhol is constantly disrupting,” De Salvo says: “Whether it's the off registration of the screen, through the color, through the scale, the multiplicity of images. He's not about a fixed image. He's actually quite the opposite and that gets to issues of identity.”
Together with host Charlotte Burns, Lévy and De Salvo discuss the radical aspects of Warhol's work, discussing how much of it is still undervalued and under-appreciated—particularly drawings from the 1950s and works from the 1970s and 1980s. “He reinvents himself and becomes more and more conceptual, and more and more relevant,” Lévy says.
“His project ends because he dies,” De Salvo says: "He was just getting going again." Ultimately, she says, Warhol “reflected these twin American desires, which are at odds: our desire to innovate and our desire to conform.”
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