Thursday, June 17, 2010

Andy Warhol: The Last Decade @ The Brooklyn Museum

Self-Portrait, 1986

I saw Andy Warhol one time. I was a student at NYU in the 1970s, killing time between classes. Walking down University Place near 8th street, I looked up, and in a small jewelry shop, there he was, as iconic in life as his work had become iconic in the art world in the 1960s and 1970s.

Andy was blessed with well more than his 15 minutes of fame, escaping an assasination attempt by Valerie Solanas in 1968, that awful time of sporadic political violence and assasination, seeming like it could brim over into anarchy at times, at home in the US and war in Asia. Andy survived and lived on until February 22, 1987, when headlines announced  that  complications following an emergency gall bladder  operation led to his death from a coronary arrhythmia.  Andy Warhol:  The Last Decade, which opens to the public today at the Brooklyn Museum focuses on the the artist's return to painting and large, ambitious new works, both solo and in collaboration with other artists, as he explored new artistic media and themes in his final years of intensive work and continued growth.

Warhol's "Oxidized" ("piss") paintings, which involved the artist and his assistants urinating on  copper sheets, and his "Last Supper" which included numerous works on religious themes, some of them the largest on religious themes done in the US, give a sense of the artist as he attempted to return to new and different idea and techniques. Although not widely known, Warhol's Eastern rite Catholicism remained very strong throughout his life; he volunterred in homeless shelters and took great pride in his support of a nephew who entered the priesthood.

"The Last Supper (Christ 112 times)"

In 1984 and 1985, gallery owners Tony Shafrazi and Bruno Bischofberger brought Warhol together with Jean Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente in a number of collaborative works. 

The Origin of Cotton, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat 1985

In this corner: Andy and Jean Michel

The Last Decade, which opens today and continues through September 12, 2010, includes some of his film and TV work, including Warhol's MTV pilot "15 Minutes of Fame" and other films by him of that era.  In his later years, his work explored religious themes, and he continued to work with new techniques and imagery,  for awhile influenced by Basquiat and Francesco Clemente and the work of younger artists. The inclusion of Brooklyn-born Basquiat in the Brooklyn-based show is just so right and a wonderful touch. We fondly remember the enormous Basquiat retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum a few years back, and last year, we saw the wonderful To Repel Ghosts ('Fantasme da scacciare') by Basquiat at The Memmo Foundation in Palazzo Ruspoli on Via Del Corso in Rome. That previous post here.   Although apparently extremely meaningul to both artists, this proved short lived . The two, one a grafitti artist who helped transform and became part of the "bull market in art in the 1980s, the other a commercial artist who mingled fine and commercial art to create the Pop Art of the 1960s and 1970s and who transformed art and helped to give New York its emerging identity as a world contemporary art capital, both appear to have influenced and shadowed each other. They both died within about a year and a half of each other, both in NYC.

While not a retrospective, it manages to cover many of the important milestones in Warhol's art and career, as the artist re-explored his use of certain images (commercial logos and images) in his later work. The exhibit offers a nice pastiche of the "Interview" magazine years and his curious flirtation with celebrity, glamour, and urban nightlife. Somewhere between the Hall and Oates and Diana Vreeland videos and the religious iconography, we see the dynamic expressed between the public and private Warhol.  Still, this look at the final chapter of Warhol's work shows a restless, sublimely creative man, who continued to take new risks and new roads throughout his life, as he evidently attempted to understand his art and himself.

The Brooklyn Museum link here

--Brooklyn Beat

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo