Andy Warhol- Shadows

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By Bruce Edwin

September 20, 2014 – February 2, 2015 at MOCA Grand Avenue; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) presents Andy Warhol: Shadows from September 20, 2014 – February 2, 2015 at MOCA Grand Avenue. The exhibition marks the first West Coast presentation of Shadows (1978-79), a monumental painting in 102 parts. Andy Warhol: Shadows is organized by Dia Art Foundation and coordinated by MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson.

Conceived as one work in multiple parts, Warhol’s exceptional series of variously silkscreened and hand painted canvases features two different compositions, ranging in hue from an electric green to a somber brown. Culled from photographs of shadows taken in The Factory, the artist’s New York City Studio, the Shadows paintings alternate between positive and negative imprints. With few exceptions, “the peak” or black positive always appears on a colored ground, while “the cap,” a smaller, colored form, hovers before a black background. In Shadows, Warhol extended his long-standing interest in seriality and repetition while forgoing the cultural icons and commodity forms that most often populate his art. As Dia Curator Yasmil Raymond notes, Shadows “formalized earlier explorations with abstraction, seen the previous year in the Oxidation, Rorschach, and Camouflage paintings.” Once referred to by Warhol as “disco décor,” the series of abstract panels create a haunting, environmental ensemble.

“Andy Warhol's Shadows are the line between the American dream and the American death. They are as dark as they are glamorous; they are as meditative as they are explosively hallucinatory; they are mourning mirrors with no reflections; they are a long film strip of serial images that evoke experimental film and the drones of the Velvet Underground. They are visual music. It is a very rare event to be able to experience the complete work as Warhol intended and MOCA is deeply grateful to Dia Art Foundation for this collaboration,” said MOCA Director Philippe Vergne.

“The Shadows are one of Warhol’s most mysterious and beautiful works, full of mood and feeling, repeated over and over, not unlike a song. Seeing them all together at MOCA provides a special occasion to consider an artist we think we know from a new angle,” said MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson.

Shadows was first exhibited in January 1979 and acquired by Lone Star Foundation (now Dia Art Foundation) the same month. The original installation at 393 West Broadway in New York featured a total of 83 panels, 67 exhibited publicly and 16 shown in the gallery’s private back room. An additional 19 canvases were acquired but not shown and a small number of similar works are privately owned. Each measuring 76 x 52 inches, installed edge to edge and close to the floor, the final number of panels presented is always determined by the dimensions of an exhibition space. MOCA’s presentation is the second to feature the full collection of paintings.

Andy Warhol (b. 1928, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; d. 1987, New York) grew up in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. From 1945 to 1949, he studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, receiving a B.A. in Pictorial Design. In 1949 he moved to New York to pursue a career as a commercial illustrator and began exhibiting drawings and paintings in the 1950s. In 1962, his first solo exhibition, Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans, was mounted at the historic Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles (later exhibited at MOCA in 2011). Thereafter his work—which includes prints, drawings, Polaroid photographs, silkscreened canvases, 16mm and Super 8 film, and writing—was widely shown nationally and abroad. Bruce Edwin of The Hollywood Sentinel states, "Andy Warhol is one of the most influential, imitated, and important, genius artists of our time. I look very forward to this show."

This story is © 2014, MOCA, and The Hollywood Sentinel, all rights reserved.