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Indepth Arts News:

"Andy Warhol Retrospective"
2002-05-25 until 2002-08-08
Museum of Contemporary Art, LA
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Andy Warhol Retrospective is the first comprehensive exhibition of the work of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) to be presented in Los Angeles in over 30 years. The only American venue for the retrospective, MOCA will bring together more than 200 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by the influential 20th-century artist, forming one of the most extensive surveys of Warhol’s work ever mounted in the United States.

This exhibition opens May 25 at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) at California Plaza (250 South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles) and remains on view through August 18, 2002. The exhibition will occupy the entire 25,000 square feet gallery space of the MOCA at California Plaza building.

Andy Warhol Retrospective spans the legendary artist’s entire career, from the early 1940s through 1986, and features key early works from such landmark series as Campbell’s Soup Cans, Marilyn, Jackie, Mao, Elvis, Flowers, Disaster, and Self-Portraits. Organized by Heiner Bastian for the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the exhibition then traveled to the Tate Modern in London. MOCA’s presentation will feature key additional loans secured only for Los Angeles.

The exhibition also includes rare examples of Warhol’s early drawings dating back to the 1940s, as well as the first groundbreaking hand-painted, black-and-white works depicting common objects of the early 1960s. Of particular focus are the 1960s Disaster paintings—including iconic themes of Suicide, Electric Chair, and Car Crash—and early groups of work seldom seen together, such as the Most Wanted Men. A selection of Andy Warhols last major series of paintings, based on Leonardo da Vincis 15th century painting of Christ and his Apostles at the Last Supper, will be included in the exhibition. The monumental paintings based on Leonardos celebrated masterpiece, are considered among Warhols most significant late work.

“Andy Warhol was the most important chronicler of the second half of the 20th century,” said Heiner Bastian, curator of the exhibition. “His powerful and striking images capture the beauty and tragedy of the significant events and icons of his time and his works have made an indelible mark on contemporary culture.”

MOCA’s unique opportunity to host this extraordinary exhibition underscores the landmark position that the city occupies in the history of Warhol’s early work. Warhol’s first solo exhibition—of Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings—was presented in Los Angeles at the legendary Ferus Gallery in 1962, followed by Elvis Portraits in 1963. In 1970, the Pasadena Art Museum organized the first American retrospective exhibition to travel internationally.

“Given Warhol’s close association Los Angeles, it is only fitting for MOCA to host this landmark exhibition,” said MOCA Director Jeremy Strick. “We are privileged to bring Warhol back to Los Angeles and honor his extraordinary and lasting contributions to the art and culture of our time.”

Employing mass-production techniques to create works, Warhol erased traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture, subtly blurring the boundaries of mass art and high culture with his striking appropriations. His choice of subjects tapped into important themes: power, fame, and tragedy. With an unerring eye for iconic images, from common objects to celebrities and disasters, Warhol produced a lasting oeuvre that captured the essence of American culture. His choice of subjects tapped into important themes: power, fame, and tragedy. With an unerring eye for iconic images, from common objects to celebrities and disasters, Warhol produced a lasting oeuvre that captured the essence of American culture.

“Merrill Lynch is proud to sponsor Andy Warhol Retrospective, a dynamic exhibition that sheds insight on an artist whose work changed the context and vocabulary of contemporary art,” said David H. Komansky, chairman and chief executive officer, and E. Stanley O’Neal, president and chief operating officer. “We are especially pleased to partner with The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Los Angeles, in their commitment to fostering cultural innovation and excellence in their community.”

Andy Warhol Retrospective has been organized by the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and curated by Bastian, art historian and independent curator. MOCA’s presentation is coordinated by MOCA Senior Curator Ann Goldstein.

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