Liz Taylor, Judy Garland, Jane Fonda, and Muhammad Ali are just a few of the legendary portraits by American Pop artist, Andy Warhol, that have taken up residency in downtown New York. These icons, along with other Warhol works, are all on display, up for grabs, and giving one hell of a history lesson.
The POP International Galleries, New York, and Revolver Gallery, Los Angeles, have arranged the largest current display of Warhol works in the United States and, quite possibly, the world.
Andy Warhol: Icons and Symbols “encapsulates Warhol’s career from the beginning to the end,” Jeff Jaffe, the gallery’s founder, told The Daily Beast. They have Warhol’s soup cans from the early 1960s, flowers from the 1970s, and pieces from the “Myths” and “Ad” series from the 1980s.
Each work tells a story of historical significance—celebrity culture, political gain, consumerism—and portrays Warhol in a way that makes him more than just a creator of pretty pictures. The “Cowboys and Indians” suite, Electric Chair from the “Death and Tragedy” series, as well as his “Ad” works, all showcase Warhol as a social and political commentator trying to make sense of his rapidly changing world.
Ten Portraits of Jews from the 20th Century, a matching portfolio of ten individuals that the artist greatly admired, is one of the most impressive facets of the collection. Entertainers, philosophers, scientists, writers, and politicians are all represented. “To see a portfolio of this caliber [makes it] the pièce de résistance of the collection,” Jaffe said.
And it is exactly that.
Outside of the technical details, the piece peels back the layers of Warhol’s creative procedure, allowing the viewer to see the critical process he used to make each work unique. In this portfolio, a subtle change in each individual composition cleverly denotes the subject portrayed.
Jaffe points out that existentialist writer Franz Kafka’s portrait is fragmented in a way that represents the mental afflictions that he suffered. American composer and pianist, George Gershwin, has “crazy swirls in the back of his mind that turns into this beautiful and incredible world changing music.” And, physicist Albert Einstein is divided by a finished and unfinished portrait—representing the dualities of the left and right sides of the brain, the scientific and the creative.
On top of roughly fifty works by the iconic artist, visitors will also have the chance to see the original Polaroid camera that Warhol used to photograph most of his celebrity friends—which is also for sale.
There is an added bonus for collectors. Whenever a work is purchased, the gallery is selling an additional piece for one cent. Yes—one cent! The lithograph, I Love Your Kiss Forever Forever, from the famous 1¢ Life book features the silkscreened lips of Marilyn Monroe and is only available while supplies last.
Andy Warhol: Icons and Symbols is on display at POP International Gallery in SoHo until January 1, 2014.