Quote c/o Andy Warhol
Warhol is having his life and death celebrated by the National Gallery of Scotland
, and feeling that a bit of art would be a fine thing to experience on a wet Sunday, I hastened to the exhibition with my infinitely better half. Well, we attempted to hasten, but the 43 miles from the Fair City to the NGS took around 4 1/2 hours, including the delightful
45 minutes it took to work our way through a very, very tacky parade which blocked up Princes St and its surrounds. Still, I suppose one must be prepared to suffer for someone else's art.
The retrospective included a fair selection of his signature pieces, including Marilyn, Jackie O, Elvis, the soup cans and so forth, but as has been pointed out elsewhere, no Mao. I am no great fan of the Great Helmsman, so that was not particularly distressing. However, it did leave the impression that the exhibition had been rather cobbled together from whatever the NGS could lay its hands on, rather than perhaps for it to have been prepared to gather together more pieces for the show, at greater cost and time, no doubt. I also concluded that rather more space was used than was needed for what the NGS had to exhibit.
Away from the iconic pieces, Warhol's juvenilia was perhaps the most interesting, in that I could see something of both Georg Grosz
and especially Jean Cocteau
in his early drawings and graphic art.
Was Warhol a great artist? I doubt it, but his melding of art with commerce is undeniably influential, and for many years I have looked at commercial art & design through the prism he created, and regard the Bird's custard tin as being a thing of rare beauty.
As a footnote, The Times obit of Warhol was a pearl, the last line of which, rather than referring to family as is the norm, was 'He always wore a silver wig
'. It is not in that paper's online archive, but I committed the line to memory at the time and have been wheeling it out ever since, so perhaps my readers will trust me on this one.