Andy Warhol is famous for his artwork featuring repetitive images which symbolize American consumer culture, such as his Campbell’s Soup series or the Cows that papered the walls of his exhibitions in the 1960s and 1970s. Though Warhol’s works are widely-known, many behind-the-scenes details are still left out of the story. While the work of an artist can be well-known and widely studied, the contributions of their assistants aren’t always emphasized. For that very reason, a new Luxembourg & Dayan exhibition “In the Making: Artists, Assistants, and Influence” is shining a spotlight on artists’ assistants, exploring the relationships between art, artist, and artist’s assistant.
The idea of an artist’s workshop filled with assistants who paint, print and produce mass quantities of work is a practice that dates back to artist like Rembrandt. However, little consideration has been given to studying the influence of contemporary artists on their assistant’s style, imagery and technique. “We wanted to throw into relief how a number of assistants, who work under the shadow of a revered artist, borrow images and more while eventually becoming a master in their own right,’ says Tamar Margalit, who curated the show with Amalia Dayan.
Included in “In The Making,” is artist George Condo, a production assistant to Warhol from 1980-81. In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Condo describes working around the clock hours, recalling the smell of ink and screen cleaner hanging heavy in the air. “We threw away thousands of Warhol’s into the dumpster every night – most likely billions of dollars of Warhol prints that had been rejected,” he said.
His particular role was known as “the diamond duster” on Warhol’s production line. Now, Condo’s silkscreens hang next to prints he executed for Warhol, demonstrating the reciprocal relationship between artist and assistant. Other artists featured include assistant to Robert Rauschenburg, Dorthea Rockburne, and assistant to Jack Goldstein, Ashley Bickerton.