What do an oversize polychrome Hummel sculpture, a pile of shiny hard candies, a close-up portrait of Condoleeza Rice, and a larger-than-life pack of cigarettes have in common? They are all objects derived, in one way or another, from the artwork of Andy Warhol, and they help comprise the Met’s current show, “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.” The extensive exhibition—which includes nearly 150 objects—is divided into five parts, exploring the ways in which Warhol has influenced representations of the news, celebrity culture, gender and sexuality, image appropriation, and creative collaboration in the 50 years since his first solo show.
Met curator Marla Prather explained Monday at a preview for the show that although there was no shortage of Pop artists to choose from, selecting works from these artists that they deemed to be innately “Warholian,” was challenging. She mentioned, for example, that one of Félix González-Torres’s hanging light pieces was originally slated to appear in the show, but was later replaced with one of his candy piles, which they felt aligned itself with the commercial nature of Warhol’s work. The artist would have most likely approved of this choice, not only for its connection to consumer culture, but also because it would satisfy Warhol’s admitted sweet tooth as well. In his From A to B and Back Again, Warhol writes of his weakness for sweets, mentioning a travel experience in which airport security searched the artist’s suitcase, only to find that it was filled entirely with candy.
The exhibition captures this quirky, fun spirit of Warhol’s with pieces such as his Mona Lisa (1963), Cow Wallpaper (1966), and Red Jackie (1964). It is also evoked by works by some of the show’s other artists including Jeff Koons, Polly Apfelbaum, Cindy Sherman, and Takashi Murakami. They are the usual usual suspects though when it comes to artists echoing Warhol, which is what keeps this exhibition entertaining, but prevents it from becoming anything more. It isn’t, by any means, a new take on Warhol. It is, however, a show that stays true to the very foundations of Pop art, presenting images that are topical, familiar, and visually pleasing.
Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years will run from September 18-December 31, 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.