I went to go see Warhol:Revisited on August 6th. I remember the date, because that is in fact Andy Warhol‘s birthday. I didn’t do this deliberately, it was just a happy accident. Nobody in the gallery that day was making much of a fuss about it. I found this glaring omission a little odd considering the only artist Revolver Gallery collects is Mr. Warhol. Maybe I missed it, but you would think that the anniversary of the birth of the sole reason your gallery exists would warrant a little recognition. If anything, a potential marketing opportunity was missed, and the one thing that becomes abundantly apparent on visiting Warhol: Revisited is that: it is nothing but one giant marketing opportunity. The exhibit feels more like a vanity project for a single minded collector than a true reflection of one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. This is not a survey of an artist’s work, rather a survey of another person’s buying habits.
Phrases like ‘Museum-Style‘ exhibition get thrown about like advertising slogans; they ring as true as phrases like “part of a nutritious breakfast.” It begs the questions: if this is such an important exhibition why isn’t it in a proper museum and why the hard sell? During a TV interview; when asked about their decision to hold the exhibition in a former retail store in the heart of Yorkville, the organizers said” It’s what Andy would have wanted.” This statement makes my skin crawl, firstly the way they framed it: it equates art with commerce and secondly don’t speak for the dead, especially when the rationale caters to your self-serving agenda rather than a dead person’s wishes. The biggest misconception about Andy Warhol is that he was only concerned with surface and the business of art and this show kind of reinforces this notion. Don’t get me wrong, that was definitely part of his approach but I don’t think that it is the core of his work. Andy was an endless innovator who was very serious about being taken seriously. Maybe a better title would be Andy Warhol: Misrepresented.
The core of the problem is that this exhibition reflects one person’s collection and that this collection reflects the availability of Warhol work on the art market. It feels as though the work was bought solely for the name rather than the artwork attached to it. Frankly some of this stuff should never have left the studio and others are just rehashes of some of his most iconic images. There are a handful of nice pieces that demonstrate how good he really was, but the number of weaker pieces seems to dilute their impact. Don’t get me wrong, would I love to own a real Warhol? You know I would, but I feel you should love the work more than the name attached to it. (I’d take one those cows in a heartbeat though!)
All my ranting and raving aside, none of what I’m saying will prevent this show (already in its third month) from being a major success. While I was there it was packed: filled with some art lovers, some curious passers-by and a crazy amount of people wanting a selfie with a Marilyn or a Soup Can. Andy Warhol is an important artist and most of what he did deserves some serious contemplation but if you want to get to know the real Andy, take a trip to Andy’s hometown of Pittsburgh and visit the Andy Warhol Museum; ‘it’s what Andy would have wanted.”