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Andy Warhol left out the middle man — who might have been an impressionist or a surrealist or some other -ist — to go straight for the instantly recognizable image. In a studio he called a factory, Warhol rendered a Campbell's Soup can large, called it art, and became a celebrity.
The Arkansas Arts Center is going to look at the Warhol phenomenon when it opens “Andy Warhol: 15 Weeks of Fame” Oct. 17, an exhibit that will bring paintings, silkscreen prints, graphite on paper, film clips and his Silver Clouds installation to town for the first time.
Curator Joe Lampo traveled to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa., to select pieces from their collection for the show. “I wanted a little bit of everything,” Lampo said, to better answer the question, as he put it, “What was the big deal about Andy Warhol?”
The big deal was that Warhol “changed the way art was made from his time on,” Lampo said. He turned the everyday into the ultra-hip — in his silkscreens and in his own persona, which became as big as the art itself.
Warhol “had an ability to synthesize thought and make these very pithy statements,” Lampo said. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘art is what you can get away with.' ” Mass-produced though Warhol's images may be — especially on the cheap poster market — his work is highly desirable today. How desirable? His “Green Car Crash” from the Death and Disaster Series (examples of which will be represented in the Arts Center) sold at auction in May 2007 for $71.7 million.
Among the familiar Brillo Boxes, camouflage and soup cans will be drawings that Lampo said will show how deft Warhol was as a draftsman. The show will also include works from a series in which he rendered details cropped from Renaissance paintings — Lampo mentioned Botticelli's Venus — in bright, saturated colors. The works will span from 1949 to 1986, the year before Warhol died of neglect in a New York hospital after a simple gall bladder surgery.
The show runs through Feb. 1, 2009. Tickets will be $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children.
Art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto says art died in 1964 when Warhol made his Brillo Boxes. The writer for The Nation magazine and Columbia University in New York professor emeritus will give a talk, “Aesthetics and Meaning,” at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Old High Middle School Auditorium in Bentonville, 406 N.W. 2nd St. The talk should be pretty high-brow: He'll discuss Immanual Kant, beauty and contemporary art.
A reception and book-signing at Crystal Bridges at the Massey follows, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Little Rock architectural photographer Tim Hursley has had more than 15 minutes of fame, thanks to his books on brothels and polygamists and New Orleans. “Tim Hursley: Warhol after the Silver Factory,” an exhibit of his photographs documenting Warhol's studio The Factory in New York's Con Edison building, goes on exhibit Nov. 28 in the Alice Pratt Brown Atrium. The show runs through Feb. 1.
The Arts Center Museum School will offer an art class for children ages 6 to 9 based on Warhol's art. “The Wacky World of Warhol” will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 1; tuition is $42 for members and $50 for non-members. A free Family Day art event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 8 and Jan. 10 will include tours and a silkscreen painting. A two-day art history class in the “Pop Phenomenon” is set for 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16; tuition is $59 and $70. A free lecture on Warhol and pop art is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20. Call 396-0353 for more information.
Market Street Cinema will show three Warhol films in January. More information about them later.
Also at the Arts Center this fall: The 51st annual Delta Exhibition runs Oct. 3-Nov. 16 and “The 40th annual Collectors Show and Sale” opens Dec. 5. Starting Dec. 19, the Arts Center will feature a seldom-exhibited medium in “Edge of the Sublime: Enamels by Jamie Bennett.”