The idea of a popup gallery is neat. It’s impermanent and for a limited time – a chance to take in something that one wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see. That, in of itself, is a buzz creator. To make it about Andy Warhol is just icing.
In the case of the Andy Warhol: Revisited Pop Art exhibition, which makes its temporary home in a vacant store at 77 Bloor Street West, there isn’t a showcase of the famed artist’s works in Toronto, so it makes for a very cool initiative by Revolver Gallery.
Going into this, my own exposure to Andy Warhol was pretty limited. I’m aware that he was an odd artist from New York who employed a very distinct, colourful style, and himself became an identifiable figure in Western popular culture. Oh, and David Bowie was into his work. But the rhyme or reason behind his work? I couldn’t tell ya.
That started to change when I was at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC earlier this year. Two of his iconic pieces gave me an inside to him: the famed Campbell’s Soup Cans and Gold Marilyn Monroe.
They reveal two themes that play out in much of his artwork: growing commercialism and the obsession (his own and society’s) with the notion of ‘celebrity’.
So now, literally revisiting Warhol here in Toronto, I get a chance to learn more. Walking into the gallery, the first thing I encounter is a fun play on the soup cans.
Aesthetically and functionally, the space itself really works. It’s a nearly all white room with the works lining the walls. There’s lots of seating, many of them positioned in front of the pieces. In the centre of the room is a media area with walls of hundreds of self-portraits.
The back of the gallery notably features a wall of ‘Socialites’ – people that asked Warhol to capture them in his art, thereby offering them a kind of immortality.
Near that is a row of the recognizable soup cans. I’d like to know what Hot Dog Bean tastes like. Warhol himself must’ve known very well because at one point that’s all he ate.
There’s a wall of shadowy figures (including Warhol himself, who I didn’t make out at first and needed to ask a gallery docent)…
…and historical icons! The simple, yet powerful ‘Red Lenin’ might be my favourite piece in the entire exhibition. Its simplicity speaks to how compelling and bold a figure he was.
There’s plenty more to see beyond what I’ve shown, which definitely warrants a first hand look for yourself, reader.
All in all, Andy Warhol: Revisited really works as the ‘museum-style exhibition’ it presents itself as. It’s even got a tiny, yet tempting gift shop. It is on until December 31 of this year, and the works within the exhibit rotate throughout that duration. That’ll certainly warrant at least a few repeat visits!