Artist Rooms: Andy Warhol

By Zac Gardiner
Images courtesy of Michael Pollard, Jan Janchlebik and The Whitworth

The latest exhibition to hit The Whitworth is devoted to one of the world-renowned artists Andy Warhol. This exhibition is shown by Artist Rooms, a touring collection that makes exceptional works of post-war and contemporary art available to institutions across the UK and run by the Tate and Nation Galleries of Scotland who have a collection of over 1,600 pieces of contemporary art from 40 international artists.


The exhibition is open to people of all ages, however, places a special focus on younger people being able to have access to art they might otherwise be unable to feel inspired by. Since they launched in 2008, Artist Rooms have been viewed by over 40 million people and 600,000 young people have taken part in its innovative learning programs.

Its second aim is to bring people from not only the surrounding towns and cities but also all over the world to Manchester, through a collective love of Warhol’s vision.

The works displayed in this particular Artist Room exhibition are focused on Andy Warhol’s work from the late 70’s to 80’s, close to the end of his life, with the double gun which he was temporarily killed by in 1968, by the radical feminist Valerie Solanas, which was featured in a large piece within the exhibition. He was taken to hospital after the attempted murder where he was eventually pronounced dead but later received an open-heart massage and was miraculously revived. This exhibition focuses on his work created after this traumatic experience, exploring the themes of death, politics and how the American dream has failed. Themes that are still key today.

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The exhibition is dark and shocking in nature, to say the least. It features images of Warhol’s body after he was shot, more prominently the scar from which the bullet was removed and the wound after being sewed up. These images were taken by photographer Richard Avedon and present Warhol as a kind of Frankenstein’s monster.

There’s also many references to death throughout the exhibition, including multiple paintings of a skull he bought at a Parisian flea market in the mid 70’s. It’s likely that these paintings represent Warhol’s thoughts of his own death and the inevitability of death coming to us all. He also features two large paintings of a .22 snub pistol, similar to the one used to shoot him by Solanas, a reminder of his own mortality as it literally shows the weapon once used to end his life.

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‘Ads and Illustrations’ is a great group of works that are featured in the exhibition. It’s made up of black and white pieces featuring images of war, religion and typical American consumer items such as burgers. Having been created around the Cold War they are critical of his relationship with the US, which was complicated, to say the least.

Fans of Andy Warhol’s work will have the opportunity to view his work in a fresh format, with its focus on death and politics offering an especially focused look at one aspect of Warhol’s work, collected all in one place. It’s also completely free, so there’s no excuse for not taking the time to see some of the last centuries greatest works of art.

The exhibition is open from the 19th of November to the 16th of April 2017, so there’s still plenty of time to head down and see what you think of one of the artistic greats.

You can find out more about Artist Rooms on their website here.

You can find out more about The Whitworth on their website here and follow them on Twitter here.

Zac Gardiner

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