September 25, 2008

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Andy Warhol’s world leaders
Pop Art legacy comes to Manchester

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

When the Currier Museum of Art acquired the Warhol “Flash” portfolio, they wanted to build an exhibition around it. “Flash – November 22, 1963” consists of 11 screenprints that Andy Warhol created five years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Warhol’s prints were based on related news images, and this is the only work by Warhol to depict President Kennedy.

The portfolio also reproduces teletype, bound as a book, from the four days between the assassination and funeral.

Museum staff started brainstorming and assistant curator Sharon Matt Atkins said she was surprised to find Warhol’s political portraits had never been looked at as a group. Hence, they open “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics,” Saturday, Sept. 27. Other images are on loan to the Currier for this exhibit, including Warhol portraits of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and Mao Zedong. More than 60 pieces will be shown, as well as archival materials relating to “Flash.”

It’s a “happy coincidence” that the Currier will have a politically themed special exhibit during the presidential election, Atkins, who curated the show, said. But the theme is also fitting for New Hampshire. People unfamiliar with Warhol might come to view the exhibit from the political perspective, Atkins said.

Warhol (1928-1987) used mass production processes in his work and “Pop Politics” seeks to show visitors Warhol’s portrait process by including the original Polaroids he took of his subjects, and related works.

The exhibit also includes some of Warhol’s film and television work.

“I think that there’s things that come through the exhibition,” Atkins said. For example, what does it mean for someone like Jimmy Carter to commission someone like Andy Warhol to make campaign posters?

Warhol “had this grand dream” of becoming the official portraitist to the leaders of the world, Atkins said. If he were around today, Atkins thinks, he “certainly would have been angling” to be creating posters for the presidential campaign. He would have continued to be involved, Atkins said.

“But there’s always sort of a fine line, with what Warhol was doing in terms of his relationship to politics,” Atkins said. Warhol, firstly, was an artist with his eye on the business side of his work. A lot of the mingling he did had more to do with getting commissions, she said.

Warhol initially turned down a request for a portrait of Ronald Reagan for the New Yorker. “But as soon as Reagan got into office” Warhol sought access, Atkins said.

The image of a green cast over Nixon’s face that says “Vote McGovern” is Warhol’s “most overtly political work,” Atkins said. “I think there’s certainly a message there,” Atkins said. It showed the reminder of Nixon as the reason to vote.

Warhol’s official political position was neutral, Atkins said. One reason is that Warhol was running the magazine Interview and didn’t want to lose advertising.

Atkins said she has quite a few favorites from the exhibit. There’s a unique portrait of Robert Kennedy that Warhol considered including in his “Flash” portfolio, Atkins said.

The Currier developed new collaborations because of “Pop Politics.” “ARTalk: An Image in the Making,” is Monday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. NHIOP director Jennifer Donahue moderates a faculty panel about “political image-making and the bearing it has on presidential elections.” Atkins presents a discussion about “Pop Politics” before the talk. The Currier is also collaborating with the New Hampshire Political Library for “ARTalk: Campaigning with Pop Art,” Thursday, Nov. 20, at 4:30 p.m. The discussion at the Currier will address political campaigns of the late 20th century.

The Currier is kicking off in Warhol style with “After Party.” Atkins said this is the second time since deSol performed in the new Winter Garden café that the Currier will host a live band of this scale. Velveeta is a tribute to Velvet Underground, and the leader wrote a book about Velvet Underground.

The Currier reopened after a major building expansion in March. Opened in 1929, the Currier features American and European artwork, and has more than 11,000 objects in its collection.

The Currier will discount $1 off admission during Pop Politics to anyone who brings a canned good or non-perishable food item to the museum. The promotion with New Horizons Food Pantry is a nod to Warhol’s habit of volunteering at shelters in New York City.

Pop art
The show: “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics” at the Currier Museum of Art from Sept. 27 to Jan. 4, 2009.
The place: 150 Ash St. in Manchester (www.currier.org, 669-6144).
• Warhol After Party: An exhibit preview party is Friday, Sept. 26, from 9 p.m. to midnight, following a museum members’ preview. Velvet Underground tribute band Velveeta performs. Warhol-inspired drinks and food will be served. Members pay $10, and nonmembers pay $20. Food and drink cost extra. This is a 21-plus event. Reserve tickets at www.currier.org or call 669-6144 ext. 108.
• Public Guided Tours: “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics” runs Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m.
• First Thursdays: “The Factory,” Thursday, Oct. 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Currier’s theme is Warhol’s studio, “the Factory.” Film your 15 seconds of fame and make Warhol-style prints and T-shirts of your favorite candidate. Buy Warhol-inspired drinks and apps in the café.
• ARTalk: “An Image in the Making” Monday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m., meet at New Hampshire Institute of Politics, at Saint Anselm Drive and Rockland Road in Manchester. NHIOP director Jennifer Donahue moderates Saint Anselm College faculty in a discussion about political image-making and the bearing it has on presidential elections. The event is free.
• Political Portraits: “Silk-screening and Drawing” Saturday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m., learn a waterbased silkscreen process in a workshop at the Currier Art Center. Materials are provided. The class is for teens and adults and costs $40.
• ARTalk: “Andy Warhol’s Pop Politics,” Sunday, Oct. 26, 2 p.m. Pop Politics curator Sharon Matt Atkins talks about the artworks on view within the context of Warhol’s career and political views.
• Family Studio: Children with adults can participate in art activities Wednesdays at the Currier from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The November theme is “Andy Warhol’s Factory.” Family Studio is free with museum admission, and children under 18 are always admitted free.
• Baby Pop: Mixed Media Painting Saturday, Nov. 8, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. is a workshop for families inspired by Warhol’s photo-transfer printing techniques, using simple media such as watercolor and colored pencil. Held in the Currier Museum Studios, it’s for ages 5 to 12, with parents. Fees are $40 for one parent and child, $55 for a parent and two children.
• ARTalk: “From Pharaohs to Presidents: Art and Politics” Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m. associate curator Kurt Sundstrom discusses how political leaders have been depicted throughout history.
• New Parent Gallery Talks: “Andy Warhol: Pop Politics” Thursday, Nov. 20, at 11 a.m. New parents can bring their babies for a tour and an excuse to get out of the house and speak with grown-ups. The talks are offered third Thursdays.
• ARTalk: “Campaigning with Pop Art” Thursday, Nov. 20, at 4:30 p.m. at the Currier, in collaboration with the New Hampshire Political Library. Learn about political campaigns of the late 20th century and connections to the exhibit.
• Andy’s Fancy Shoes: “The Art of Monoprinting” Saturday, Nov. 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. Learn about monoprinting inspired by Warhol’s early “blot” print contour line drawings of “fancy” shoes. Materials are provided. The workshop is for preteens and teens, and takes place in the Currier Art Center. The fee is $40.

The details: Call 669-6144, ext. 122, to register for workshops. The Currier Art Center is at 180 Pearl St. in Manchester. Most events held inside the Currier museum are included with the cost of admission. Adults pay $10, seniors pay $9, students pay $8, and youth under 18 are admitted free. Museum members are admitted free. Visit www.currier.org for more information.


Ads: Van Heusen (Ronald Reagan), 1985 Founding Collection, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh © 2008 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / ARS, New York   Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.


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