Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Andy I Did Not Know Of

Only few days ago I was watching Brant's interview on youtube where he narrated the story of how he started collecting Warhol. What was my surprise to discover that his renown collection is now on show at Milan's Palazzo Reale. Yet, I left the exhibition slightly unimpressed, but maybe because I was expecting it to be as vibrant and fun as Pollock and Irascibles which is also on view at Palazzo Reale. Both events are curated by the same group as a part of Autunno Americano project. 

My friend's saying "never expect anything, so you can be always genuinely surprised" despite being said about men, can be applied to literally anything. Yes, this saying sums up my feelings. 

Things I did not like much

It was DULL: an exhibition about a guy whose name is a synonym for pop-art was not designed as a pop-art story at all.  

The entrance was promising and reminded me of silk printing technique that Warhol brought to art from advertising, with black and white images in which one could trace the artist's portrait and silhouette. Psychedelic music as a background was completing the picture. But all fun was introduced and remained in the entrance hall, unfortunately. I hoped to see some pop-art superficiality (in a good way) also in exhibition design to get some good vibes as I have been sick for ages and wanted something to offset my physical weakness (the reason why I chose Warhol over Rodin or Brain science exhibition), but instead I discovered mouse-grey walls with same color signs, few of which were torn from their fixture and neglectfully moved/twisted. 

Maybe the organizers did not want to follow the steps of a one-room April 2013 Startdust exhibition comprised of Bank of America Merrill Lynch collection and curated by Laura Calvi in 900 Museum that despite being tiny was funky and fun. I enjoyed reading the signage in acid pink or green colors and having those "booms" and "bams" call-outs (which are more related to Roy Lichtenstein, but still...). I was not expecting exact replica of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart's 1974 wallpaper background on the picture below, yet they could have done so much fun out of this exhibition, but instead it was like any other art show.

Maybe it was request of Brant Foundation or Palazzo Reale or maybe Arthemisia Group has had a busy period simultaneously organizing three (as far as I know) exhibitions at Palazzo Reale and did not want to deal with all craziness of making a crazy pop-art show or maybe got relaxed as both of its previous shows, the Pollock's and the one on Modigliani was a grand success. 

The power of iPhone: the photo captured a pretty nice exhibition

I still enjoyed the show, in particular, the information on the audioguide, with short music pieces I suppose from Velvet Underground which was interlinked with Warhol. As a visitor I learned a lot from the narration, but it was too long for the amount of works present as in each room almost all the items had audio comments. Pop-art is a quick art: it was created fast and is viewed fast, so while I had satisfied my visual curiosity for all paintings in a room, the narration was still on some historical facts of the first painting. If you struggle with this kind of dissonance, follow my technique: compare various prints for the amount of ink that affected sharpness of an image, and whether there were any different dots in one missing in another print (also since I have recently made my first prints in a workshop by Paul Coldwell - if I were with someone I could have bragged about that, but I was alone and fully consumed by the audio). For some reason I felt weird, only in a bit I understood why: even those who came in groups almost did not communicate with each other because of the power of an audio guide separation - something simultaneously bad and good I would say. Another funny observation: since everyone followed the number sequence for the guide's narration, we were moving in a small group from one painting to another as a small cluster of sardines in ocean's current. This was funny to notice as the space was big but everyone was gathered in one corner closing the view to each other and listening to the same story, maybe with few seconds delay  

Unlike Pollock's, this exhibition did not have any interactivity and the only video in a hidden room was in Italian (same drawback is at Pollock's), without subtitles and even though the interviewer was telling interesting facts, if volume was turned down and few images of Warhol's works were not shown it would not drive my attention as I would not even know what is it about. I don't ask an art critique to be like Hollywood actor Alan Cumming in Tate's Unlock Art short when narrating about Pop Art, but making it a bit more dynamic and, of course, with subtitles, could have made the video room interesting to a group of international youngsters who entered the room and left immediately.  

This is Tate's Unlock Art short that I by chance saw this morning, which then mysteriously disappeared from Tate's Youtube channel and website

While I liked the curves and bright colors of the benches, I was not very eager to sit on them as they looked uncomfortable and unstable. Their curve was uneven, so in the biggest room despite placed in the middle they were not giving me freedom to choose which way to seat and which paintings to observe while seated. I had many versions why these futuristic pieces of furniture ended up in Warhol's show, but I felt that their appearance was not fully associated with flamboyant pop art. But I don't know Warhol that well and maybe these were copies from his famous Studio 54. 

The last, but not least, the hashtag #WARHOL is generic and cannot be "l'hashtag ufficiale della mostra" ("official hashtag of the exhibition"). Maybe it was also done on purpose to get people's opinion about the show lost in the twitter flow of global Warhol's fans. 

Things I did not know...

...or rather the art by Warhol I did not know. 

His Rorschach-inspired ink paintings of the 80s are one of few examples where Warhol did not base his artwork on preexisting images, rather creating them himself. Another example of experimenting with shapes, without actually knowing or controlling the end result are so-called Piss or Oxidation Paintings. The title speaks for itself: he was urinating on canvases also involving his assistants and guest of the studio to contribute. Gross one might think, but believe me or not, this Warhol I like more than the one obsessed with celebrities and money. 

The third discovery was to know that at the end of his abruptly stopped career his last show was inspired by my favorite Milan-based Cenacolo Vinciano or The Last Supper. For that purpose he visited Milan and made many variations of this renown Leonardo Da Vinci's mural painting.   

Yes, I am guilty for this snap... but as I already said in my earlier post, I don't like the idea of forbidding taking photos at an exhibition

...and for these tree discoveries about Andy Warhol I am glad I went to that exhibition. 

So, despite my pretentious old spinster style review, I do recommend to pay a visit, plus, it won't take long: as with all my scrupulosity of listening all comments, reading all signages and viewing 20 min video I spent there a bit more than 1 hour. Just make sure to get to the ticket office an hour before the closure time: apparently, the vending machines stop functioning and cannot issue tickets (at least, this was an explanation for today's Brain exhibition that I did not manage to visit).

What happens when Warhol's show last visitor, aka me, leaves the exhibition hall? A guy in a white wig pretending to be Andy Warhol and a bunch of nicely dressed people walk in the exhibition space - Dom Perignon's corporate event starts

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