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A Visit to The Warhol

August 30, 2017
Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1966-1967

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait,1966-1967

I remember that Love Boat episode with Andy Warhol in it, though I don’t remember it accurately. My pre-teen brain decided Warhol was a vampire because he was so pale and wore the most fantastic clothing. There was only one problem. I thought I knew all the vampire powers and limitations. Daylight roaming certainly was not allowed, though Warhol was doing it. I guessed Love Boat was bending the rules again to do some intra-network promotion. I assumed Warhol’s appearance meant Fantasy Island characters would be showing up, too. Sadly, I did not see Ricardo Montalbán. I was into him way before the Wrath of Khan and That Chest. But I digress…

A new fascination with Andy Warhol was born that strange Love Boat day. So on a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I couldn’t resist visiting Andy Warhol’s museum.  It was everything I could have hoped for.

Andy Warhol, Julia Warhola, 1974

Andy Warhol, Julia Warhola, 1974

Of course, a pop art painting of Warhol’s mother Julia was on display. By the time I got to the double-portrait of her, I had already absorbed a great deal of The Warhol. I learned Andy was a child of the Great Depression who earned over $70,000 a year as an illustrator by the end of the 1950s. He was just 30 years old. At the time, Andy Warhol’s persona and art were a little different.




His mother Julia had been living with him since 1951. She was an artist, too, and she supported Andy’s creative pursuits from an early age as all the best moms do. But Julia Warhola was a super-mom. Born in Slovakia in 1891, she lived in her son’s basement apartment for twenty years from 1951-1971. Just to clarify — Andy Warhol’s mother  resided at Pop Art Central for twenty years! During the sixties! The things that woman saw! I imagine she was having as good a time as everyone else. For twenty years, she continued her own artistic work and contributed to her son’s oeuvre most noticeably by adding distinctive text to his pieces.

I thought more about history than I expected to at the Warhol museum. My 18-year long (apparently!) attempt to read in order at least one biography of each American president recently brought me up to 1969. Wikipedia helped with the rest. The Warhol museum gave me a somewhat randomized opportunity to imagine how the art, politics and controversies of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s wove into each other. I was particularly affected by:

Jackie Kennedy memorialized less the year after the assassination of JFK,

Red Jackie, 1964, Andy Warhol

Red Jackie, 1964, Andy Warhol

Fear of Nixon and concern about his re-election visualized in garish color,

Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern, 1974

Andy Warhol, Vote McGovern, 1974

A sultry Mick Jagger,

Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, 1975

Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, 1975

Robert Mapplethorpe before Reagan and HIV,

Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1983

Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1983

and one man’s desire for motorcycles and cheap eats at the Last Supper.

Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986

Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986

The Andy Warhol Museum contained quite an intriguing collection that lacked only a Ricardo Montalbán montage. Luckily, PowerPoint’s “Format Picture” options helped me take the edge off.

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