Like London buses, you wait for one for ages, and then two come along at once. Both Firstsite and the Alcyon Gallery have an exhibition on Andy Warhol.
Whilst he is credited for coining the expression ’15 minutes of fame’, this could not be less true of his enduring and ubiquitous popularity. A reminder, if one was ever needed, of the undiminished relevance of his work in the contemporary art scene.
He introduced a bold and genial rite of observation and fast consumption of art, building on his early experience as a commercial illustrator, in the form of serial repetitions of images with minute variants. This technique drained them of their meaning, sacrificing the relevance and uniqueness of the subjects of his work while popularising his signature style instead.
Replicating advertisements and everyday life freely, he strongly advocated his stance against the mainstream idea of painting as a medium of originality. This was to be found in his approach to art, which very often replaced an already popular image with his own version of it in the collective imagination.
Despite the recurring accusations of mass-produced works for pure financial gain, his portraits remain to this day amongst the most loved and easily recognisable.
Andy Warhol loved celebrities: he didn’t warm up to people, but to their star quality. He was a keen observer, but from afar. And it proved to be a very fruitful relationship. In cementing their iconic status, he secured himself a place for posterity.
FROM OUR VISIT TO FIRSTSITE:
FROM OUR VISIT TO THE ALCYON GALLERY:
All photographs © Chris Jordan