I spent the last week in Pittsburgh with my husband and his family, and on Christmas Eve we explored the 6 floors of gallery space at The Andy Warhol Museum. I’ve been fascinated by Warhol since high school so when he told me he was taking me to The Warhol, I was beyond stoked!
The museum that beautifully overflows with drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, films that influenced him as well as films that he influenced, video, an extensive archive of ephemera, source materials for his art (such as photographs, newspapers and magazines), and other documents of Warhol’s life. It opened in 1994 and sits on a corner on the north shore of Pittsburgh, just across the 7th street bridge.
We took the stairs to the top floor and made our way down, spending several hours perusing through the collection of about 900 paintings, 100 sculptures, 2,000 works on paper, 1,000 published and unique prints, 4,000 photographs, 60 feature films, 200 of Warhol’s Screen Tests, and more than 4,000 videos.
The museum also features work by other artists, as well as Warhol’s collaborative paintings made with younger artists such as Francesco Clemente, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was (and still is) one of the most influential artists to have ever lived. Also included is a performance art series, film screenings, lectures, concerts, and more. Drawings by Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola are also included in the collection.
I had come to realize that Warhol’s body of work extends vastly beyond what I imagined or studied before. It was a bit overwhelming. The Andy Warhol Museum continues to display never-before-seen Warhol artworks from the collection which often rotates, offering a new experience with each visit. In addition to the thousands of pieces in the museum’s permanent collection, the museum houses the Warhol’s archives which includes papers and other materials from his estate, a portion of his personal collection of thousands of collectibles, books, a nearly complete run of Interview magazine, clothing, scripts, diaries, and correspondence. What is it about seeing a person’s hand-written letter that immortalizes them far greater than a video?
The collection also features wallpaper and books by Warhol, covering the entire range of his work from the 1940s to 1980s, and includes student work from the 40s, drawings, commercial illustrations and sketchbooks from the 50s, and his widely recognized 60s Pop paintings of consumer products (Campbell’s Soup Cans) and celebrities (Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis). I saw other works from his Diamond Dust series, which I first saw at an event thrown by the New Orléans Museum of Art. As you can tell by now, the museum is incredible.
The Warhol theater continuously screens Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, a short documentary about Warhol’s life and art which we enjoyed at the end of our journey. I bought a few souvenirs from The Warhol Store, including refrigerator magnets and pins for my denim jacket. I also had my Warhol-like screen test filmed.
What’s more solidified after having this experience is that Warhol wasn’t afraid to be wrong. Art is subjective/relative so above all else, he has taught me to be true to my work. What a great thought to carry into 2016. Thank you, Andy Warhol, for being an innovator and one of my greatest inspirations.