Warhol’s New Year’s Eve Finale at the Met

Andy Warhol. Big Campbell's Soup Can, 19¢ (Beef Noodle), 1962. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, The Menil Collection, Houston. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol. Big Campbell’s Soup Can, 19¢ (Beef Noodle), 1962. Acrylic & graphite on canvas, The Menil Collection, Houston. © 2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / ARS, New York

New Year’s Eve is the last day of a major tribute to the man who encouraged us to view brands, news, celebrities, identity-shifting, multiples, and commerce as art – Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.

 The curators have organized the big, second-floor galleries along these themes, and paired Andy’s work with the work of fifty contemporary artists whose own work is indebted to Andy’s redefinition of modern life.

As the show begins, it’s almost as if Andy’s contemplating the implications of the upcoming fiscal cliff talks with the wall quote, “Buying is much more American than thinking.”

To prove his point, you’ll find Andy’s little-seen Dr. Scholl’s Corns (1961) (a gift from Halston to the Met), alongside better-known Brillo boxes and other brand icons from the Whitney, Menil, and Warhol Foundation collections. The curators have included Tom Sach’s Chanel Chainsaw (1996) and Hans Haake’s political pop masterwork, a giant cigarette box created in 1990 in response to Jesse Helms’s attack on Mapplethorpe and the NEA with the cigarettes wrapped in the Bill of Rights and branded “Phiip Morris Funds Jesse Helms”.

Fragment of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen on canvas, Ethel Scull 36 Times. Jointly owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Gift of Ethel Redner Scull, 2001

Fragment of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen on canvas, Ethel Scull 36 Times. Jointly owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Gift of Ethel Redner Scull, 2001

Alongside Andy’s Screen Test films are portraits by Tillman, Close, and Avedon, as well as a needlepoint of Liza in her heyday and a brilliant Sugimoto portrait of Fidel Castro (except that it’s a wax museum likeness).  Andy’s dollar-sign print multiples are hung near another quote: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” An entire wall covered in Takashi Murakami and Koons multiples stand in evidence.

If you can’t celebrate in person at the Met, download Rebecca Lowery’s timeline of Warhol’s impact from the exhibition catalog. Or watch the 90-minute video featuring the curator Mark Rosenthal debating if Warhol actually is the most influential artist of the last fifty years. Or, view the films and listen to the music that the Met streamed live last October:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Dean and Britta—13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

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