Way before social media was conceptualised, Andy Warhol used pictures as a sort of visual diary to document his life. These include Polaroids of Biana Jagger, Diana Vreeland, Jean Paul Gaultier, and even himself. Today, these shots provide a unique insight into the life of the artist and thanks to The Ryan Foundation, an opportunity has arisen allowing us to achieve a greater understanding of Warhol though the exhibition Andy Warhol: Social Circus.
Some of the artist’s most significant work, which has been carefully curated, and includes important loans from private collections and galleries, is presented in the exhibition that aims to educate the public on Warhol’s creative process and work.
“I expect visitors to take away a sense of awe when they see the diverse and expansive artistic practice of Warhol. It is amazing that Warhol’s work is still relevant today,” says Ryan Su, founding director of The Ryan Foundation, presenter of the exhibition.
In what is described as the “democratisation” of art, the exhibition is open to the public at no cost. Spanning over two floors, visitors will be able to explore Warhol’s journey as an artist, beginning first with the original Polaroids. These were said to play an integral role in Warhol’s creative process as they formed the basis of his commissioned portraits.
This will then lead to work like the Saint Apollonia silkscreen as well as of infamous Chairman Mao Zedong. Accompanying those are reprints of Warhol’s Flowers series and more of Chairman Mao printed by appropriation artist Sunday B. Morning in the 1980’s. Warhol had no problem with his work being reproduced as he believed in the commercialisation of art, and he even once quipped that “Good business is the best art”.
Another aspect of the exhibition to look out for is the Silver Room which pays homage to the infamous Silver Clouds. The Silver Room recreates an immersive, creative yet playful environment that is quintessentially Warhol.
It was in 1966 that Warhol created the Silver Clouds – rectangular, pillow-shaped balloons made from metalised plastic film and filled with helium. They marked the period when Warhol became bored of painting, wanting instead to make short films. To signify the end of his painting phase, he created a “painting” that floated away. Combined with his love of silver, he filled these “paintings” with helium and let them float out of his apartment.
Also displayed is Warhol’s infamous Red Sofa – a replica of the factory’s center-of-attraction. The sofa was pretty much at the heart of Warhol’s creativity. Most of his subjects lazed on it for film screenings, musical performances and photoshoots. It is however only a replica as Warhol’s original red sofa was stolen when he was moving studios.
To create a more interactive experience, visitors will get to try their hand at creating silkscreen prints just like how Warhol did in his studio, The Silver Factory.
Andy Warhol: Social Circus was first launched in Singapore during Singapore Art Week 2016. From here it will move to Seoul and then Bangkok.
“The choice to bring to show to Asia was a natural one,” explains Su. “People, especially young people, are now exposed to the life and work of Andy Warhol through to the life and work of Andy Warhol through Instagram, Facebook and the internet, but there is a dearth of institutions and collections in Asia where they can see Warhol’s art up close and personal. We fill that void and hope to enthuse visitors about art when they see the touring show. We are working with some of the most beautiful venues in the various countries to best showcase Warhol’s work. The travelling show is designed as an “Instagram paradise” and this is one art exhibition where photography is encouraged. I expect visitors to have fun at the show.”
Andy Warhol: Social Circus takes place from Sept 3 to Sept 18 at Slate @ The Row. Admission is free.