If Andy Warhol opened a gallery in Toronto, it would be smack dab in the middle of Yorkville.
At least that’s what Ron Rivlin thinks.
The Los Angeles-based, Thornhill-raised entrepreneur is bringing his extensive collection of original Warhol prints and paintings to Toronto this summer. The July to December exhibition, Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror for Today, is said to be the largest Warhol exhibition ever to come to Canada.
“When I was thinking ‘where do I want to be?,’ I was thinking Yorkville because I was thinking that’s where Andy would have had it,” said Rivlin, speaking to the Star by phone from his L.A. gallery. “It’s the hub of fashion and the finance world . . . He was obsessed with money and fashion.”
Rivlin left Toronto for L.A. 16 years ago to pursue a career in the music industry — eventually becoming talent manager for the likes of Run DMC, Busta Rhymes and Wu-tang Clan — and along the way, developed a passion for Warhol’s works.
“I’m drawn to the simplicity and power of his art,” he said. “He would bring out the vibrancy of a mundane image . . . and glamorize it.”
Rivlin first purchased one Warhol piece three years ago. His collection quickly ballooned to more than 100 works and he eventually opened Revolver Gallery — a Warhol-only space with art for sale (unlike the upcoming Toronto show).
The exhibition will showcase more than 120 original prints and paintings, most from Rivlin’s personal collection and a few on loan from other owners. The works will include pieces from Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Campbell’s Soup series.
“I can say with certainty that many people in Toronto haven’t seen many of the works that we’re going to be bringing in,” he said.
The location for the exhibition is a curious one — Rivlin is setting up shop in the old Guess store at Bay and Bloor Sts. — but he says it’s “dead centre Toronto” and hopes the location draws a diverse crowd, including students.
Depending on the exhibition’s success, Rivlin — who still calls Toronto “home” — is also considering opening a permanent Warhol space in the city.
“I just think it’s a culturally rich city where I think people will embrace this,” he said. “I’m ecstatic.”
Andy Warhol Revisited runs from July 1 to December 31 at 77 Bloor St W. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students and youth. Kids under 5 are free. More info at warholrevisited.com.