national gallery of art + andy warhol

I believe I mentioned this in one of my previous posts, but I am a big fan of Andy Warhol’s art.  I like how you are unable to look away from his crazy use of colors, and how the seeming inane repetitions remain implanted on your brain even after you turn away, like how the sun is imprinted on your eyelids if you look right at it on a clear day, or how you continue to hear the blaring bass from a dance club even when you are home in your quiet apartment, the remnants of the night following you home. 

Whenever I see works by Warhol, I always think about this random, unrelated print by Craig Damrauer:  


Isn’t that so true though?  I look at Jackson Pollock’s splatter paintings and Warhol’s colored Marilyn Monroe photograph and think, man, I seriously could do that.  But I, we, no one ever did. 

I drew my inspiration* for my framed hi print from Andy Warhol’s Campbells soup cans.  See?



Ehh?? Eh? (There’s a lot of elbow nudging going on here.)  Definitely some similarities. 

Regardless of the obvious parallels between myself and Warhol, I still like his stuff.  So when I heard there was not one, but TWO exhibits of his lesser seen works coming to town, I was excited.  I chose this past Saturday, grey without being gloomy, to visit the National Gallery of Art for my first time.

I’m a huge fan of doing museums by myself.  I think it’s from the annual summer vacations my family used to go on, 99.1% of the time to museums only, where I would be bored to tears looking at colonial artifacts and reading about Civil War battle strategies.  I would stand in front of (probably the world’s most amazing) painting and pick my nose, growl at strangers, and chew on my hair until my parents would be so embarrassed that they’d take me out to the rental car where I would blissfully play with the automatic windows.  In short, a nightmare for everyone involved. 

My appreciation for art/culture/history/sightseeing has improved dramatically since those days.  I still believe, however, that there is absolutely no shame in spending .001 seconds looking at an exhibit, or skipping it entirely.  Everyone has different things that appeal to them, and you are not obligated to act interested in every single grain of dust that floats by just because it’s famous.  So, I fully support museum-going alone–it is my perferred method.  Nobody is judging me for skipping the Something Something gallery, and I don’t have to wait on someone while they read the Blah Blah plaque. 

So I went to the Art Gallery by myself, obviously looking like a baller because 43 people asked me for directions on the way there, to go see the Warhol: Headlines exhibit.  This time, I was that person reading the whole Blah Blah plaque–and I learned a lot.  (Huh.  Who would’ve thought.) 

The introduction described Warhol’s obsession with Consumerism, and how he viewed the media as just another product, its’ loud and visual headlines the label on another omnipresent package.  Warhol was especially attracted to the subjects of death, disaster, and celebrity, and loved the “stark contrast between the sensational and the mundane.”  [Source.]  He started to satiate his interest in the headlines by simply replicating them, two virtually identical images.  As he studied them more, perhaps becoming more frustrated? more engrossed?, he began twisting and manipulating the front pages until they reflected less the news of the day and more the inner workings of the artist. 

As I wandered through the exhibit, I thought it was interesting to see Warhol’s liberties with the headlines expand.  I got the sense at the end of the exhibit that he was just so fed up with the outrageous front pages and the rather dull news that was being reported; it seemed to me that he relished clawing apart the papers and piecing them back together into his own vision.  There was almost a franticness to his art–this message MUST be changed!  I liked it.

I bought an overpriced catalog book on my way out–the NGA has the best gift shop!–and it’s sitting on my coffee table.  I actually should read it, since it has full pages of text dedicated to explaining each work, and I would thus be more knowledgeable when reviewing the exhibit here.  But I really enjoyed just looking at each headline without necessarily knowing the history behind it–this way I can make my own.


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