The Mitchell Art Gallery at St. John's College

Annapolis, MD



Works by Warhol from the Cochran Collection


The Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College will present an exhibition of 23 works by pop artist Andy Warhol, one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century. The exhibit features a wide sampling of prints dating from 1974 to 1986, including a rare set of his silkscreen series "Cowboys and Indians." "Works by Warhol from the Cochran Collection" will be on display October 25 through December 14, 2000.

Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He moved to New York City and got his first break as a commercial artist in 1949, when Glamour Magazine wanted him to illustrate a feature entitled "Success is a Job in New York." The credit accidentally read "Drawings by Andy Warhol," which is how he dropped the "a" in his last name. By 1955 he was the most successful and imitated commercial artist in New York.

In 1960 he produced the first of his paintings depicting enlarged comic strip images, such as Popeye and Superman, for use in a window display. Warhol pioneered the development of the process whereby an enlarged photographic image is transferred to a silk screen that is then placed on a canvas and inked from the back. It was this technique that enabled him to produce the series of mass-media images that he began in 1962. Incorporating images like Campbell's Soup cans, dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles, and the faces of celebrities, they can be taken as comments on the banality, harshness, and ambiguity of American culture.

Later in the 1960s, Warhol made a series of experimental films dealing with such ideas as time, boredom, and repetition; they include Sleep (1963), Empire (1964), and The Chelsea Girls (1966). In 1965 he started working with a rock band called The Velvet Underground. He founded inter/VIEW magazine in 1969 (the name was changed to Interview in 1971) and continued to paint portraits until his death in 1987.

Mick Jagger is one of the many iconographic images in the exhibit. Using his own photograph of his rock star friend, Warhol creates a cubist-like dislocation, doubling the outline of eye and nose surrounding the redundant profile with emphatic black hair and jagged, collage-like patterns in black and lavender.

For John Wayne, Warhol began with a publicity shot for the actor's 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and individualized the image with his characteristic linear reiteration. Wayne embodied a romaticized version of the American: a cowboy who was righteous, quick on the trigger, and hesitant of speech. Because of the threat of a lawsuit by the John Wayne Foundation, this work was recalled, and the original brown of the pistol changed to blue.

In Geronimo, Warhol's duplication of outline transforms a 19th century photo of the Apache chief. In the original, Geronimo sits with a rifle resting on his bare knee. Warhol cropped the photo, concentrating on the face and transforming the Indian's angry scowl into what seems more like the verge of tears. The aging Geronimo, who had seen his wife, mother, and children killed by Mexicans, was held at hard labor and never permitted to return to his home state of Arizona. The government finally consented, however, to his selling photographs of himself, like the one used by Warhol. (left: Geronimo, 1986, Cochran Collection)

The two prints titled Moonwalk represent the only completed works from the series on television, which Warhol's sudden death left unfinished. By affixing his initials in neon colors to Buzz Aldrin's helmet, the artist staked his claim to the image, just as the astronaut planted the United States flag on the moon.

This exhibition has been organized by Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and coordinated by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services. Funding for this exhibition has been provided in part by Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis, the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the Maryland State Arts Council, Members of the Mitchell Art Gallery, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Clare Eddy and Eugene V. Thaw Fine Arts Fund, and Carleton Mitchell.

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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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