In the late 1960s Andy Warhol famously stated: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Certainly an argument can be made that Warhol’s theory has been borne out on social media, where varying degrees of fame can befall anyone, at any time. Warhol was also innovative in transforming everyday commercial objects – like his famous Campbell’s Soup cans – into iconic paintings and photographs. His “pop art” made culture accessible for the masses.
But that is not to say Warhol didn’t also court the truly famous; his most recognizable and sought-after artwork featured stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger. And as his work and life were inseparable, Warhol cavorted with said celebrities in his downtime and would become a bold-face name in his own right. Warhol claimed he never read his own press, he only weighed it – and if it was heavy, he considered that a good sign.
Now, the city of Toronto has the opportunity to learn more about the artist who was at the forefront of the pop art movement with Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror for Today. Located in a temporary art gallery on Bloor and Bay (in the former Guess clothing store), the exhibit is Canada’s largest collections of Warhol’s works, showcasing over 120 prints and paintings during a six-month run.
Revisited is curated by Los Angeles-based Revolver Gallery whose founder, Ron Rivlin, hails from Toronto. Rivlin was eager to share the vast Revolver collection with his hometown. “Toronto is really a great city. People really embrace the arts here. When I heard there hadn’t been a Warhol exhibit here in seven years, I saw an opportunity,” Rivlin said during the exhibit’s preview.
Indeed, well-known portraits of Marilyn, Chairman Mao and Queen Elizabeth II, and iconic characters like Mickey Mouse are among the many on display. Prominent philanthropists who commissioned portraits from Warhol in the 70s and 80s are showcased in a series simply titled “Socialites.” There is also an interactive display of Warhol’s video clips from his Factory studio, and a floor-to-ceiling collage of Polaroids. Over the next few months various Toronto-based guest speakers, artists and DJs will be sporadically featured to further enliven the colourful environment.
The exhibit’s theme, “A Mirror for Today”, suggests that Warhol’s vision can be applied to contemporary society. One can only speculate who may have been among Warhol’s subjects had he been around today. (The Kardashians? Justin Bieber?). Well, until such time as a worthy candidate comes along to take up Warhol’s mantle, celebrities and non-celebrities alike are left to cultivate their own fame. To that end, there is a wall of Campbell’s Soup cans on display at the gallery where visitors can take a “selfie” to post to their Instagram accounts.