“Gee… how glamorous“. Andy Warhol. Stars und Theatralität

Fame, glitz and glamour fascinated Andy Warhol throughout his life. The notion of the star is in many different ways a central leitmotif in Warhol’s oeuvre. Starting in the 1960s with portraits of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and others, in their typical poses as film actors, Warhol is not only interested in them as a subject matter, but rather in implicating them in a conscious strategy; indeed, Warhol sought to exploit for his own purposes how to best participate in the fame of others.

When, in the mid-1960s, Warhol started to pursue film as a more predominant medium in his work than painting, ‘Factory Films Inc.’ was his personal response to the Hollywood movie machinery, offering an intimate realm of film inhabited by countless ‘Superstars’ nominated by Warhol himself.
In the 1970s, when Warhol was already world famous, he established what could be called a ‘Pay to Become a Warhol Star’ system of commissioned portraits, making the portrait of anyone who could afford the standard price of $25,000 per picture. Over the years, he created more than a thousand portraits of well-known as well as less reputed celebrities from the realms of both public and non public life. In the late 70s and early 80s, Warhol created an astounding number of photographs, which document his social rapports with the stars and celebrities of New York high society and the international jet set.

Thus, in the course of time, entirely different conceptions and models of stardom become distinguishable in Warhol’s work. The way Warhol presents himself in his self-portraits changes in equal measure as his self-presentation before the cameras of other photographers.

In relation to the notion of stardom, the exhibition “Gee… how glamorous” offers exemplary representations of the central production mechanisms and strategies employed by Warhol in his life and art, as well as in the complex universe of the Factory. During the past decades there have been innumerable thematic shows of Warhol’s work, yet most of them offered classical interpretations by focussing on particular themes and/or group of works within his oeuvre. “Gee… how glamorous” proposes a different view of Warhol’s work from a contemporary perspective. It seeks to posit questions of identity and its construction, self-perception and the perception of others in relation to theatrical as well as documentary strategies. Beyond paintings, films and photographs by Andy Warhol, the exhibition also presents a variety of documentary photos, archive material and recordings from Warhol’s immediate surroundings. The overall presentation – consciously doing almost entirely without original works by Andy Warhol – furthermore investigates the value and aura of the ‘original’.

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