Hi there! I’m finally back after more than 3 months! I’ve been quite busy (but also quite lazy) and didn’t find the time to write new posts.
But I couldn’t not write about the Warhol Icons exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery, the best exhibition about Warhol I’ve ever seen and will probably ever see!!!
Although the exhibition officially starts today, it has actually been possible to visit it since 5 April.
And my mother, my sister and I even had the privilege to get a guided tour when the exhibition was being installed.
Why? How? For 2 reasons combined: because I’ve always been curious but also because I’ve learnt to enjoy speaking with people (and believe me, nobody thought that I would become a sociable person when I was younger).
New Bond Street is one of the most famous streets in London, mainly for its luxury shops and Victoria’s Secret. But only a few people know that this street is also lined with amazing modern and contemporary art galleries such as Galerie Bartoux, Contini Art UK and, my favourite, Halcyon Gallery.
Haclyon Gallery is in fact composed of 2 galleries facing each other, one small and one large.
I visit both of them on a regular basis and I’ve had the pleasure to discover many great artists over the past few months: Santiago Montoya, Bob Dylan (yes, the singer is also a painter!), Russell Young, Mauro Perucchetti…
I always feel welcome to wander around the galleries and the art consultants are always keen to engage a conversation about the artists, even if they can guess that I’m not a potential buyer.
But let’s come back to the Warhol Icons exhibition.
It hasn’t been advertised anywhere when my mother, sister and I were walking on New Bond Street. I hadn’t planned to enter in an art gallery with them but, when passing by the small Halcyon Gallery, the print of a beautiful coloured tiger caught my mother and mine’s attention and made us stopped.
We had a small reproduction of the exact same tiger when I was a child. Actually, we had several reproductions of the same collection: an elephant, a zebra, a rhinoceros, a frog and a ram for sure and maybe more but I don’t remember. I loved them so much! But one day, we moved and since then they have been staying in boxes. This is why my sister didn’t know about them.
We entered and I was surprised to see that it was a print from Andy Warhol, belonging to his Endangered Species series. But not so surprised because if we think about it, it’s totally his style, it’s just that I didn’t make the link before.
We had a look at the rest of the gallery and on our way out, an art consultant started to talk with me, asking me if I knew the Halcyon Gallery before, which artists were my favourite… Then, I told him that I wanted to show my mother and sister the biggest gallery across the street. To which he replied that the Warhol Icons exhibition was being installed so he wasn’t sure we would be let in. He must have seen my disappointment because he offered to accompany us (to make sure we would be allowed inside) and to give us a guided tour.
It was magical!!! I had goosebumps from the moment I stepped in. The whole gallery has been devoted to the works of Andy Warhol, with over 100 pieces on display! The exhibition includes many portraits of iconic figures and celebrity friends and 5 of his most celebrated portfolios of 10.
As I don’t want to ruin all the surprise if you plan to visit the gallery, I will only speak about the works that I liked the most.
And obviously, being an animal and nature lover, my favourite work was the Endangered Species series.
This series was commissioned following a discussion with NY gallery owners Frayda and Ronald Feldman about environmental issues. The 10 prints were produced in 1983 and represent, from left to right: an African elephant, a Pine Barrens tree frog, a Siberian tiger, a San Francisco silverspot butterfly, a giant panda, a bald eagle, an orangutan, a Grévy’s zebra, a bighorn ram and a black rhinoceros.
My second favourite work was the Cowboys and Indians series.
Warhol choose American heroes and entertainers such as Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne to represent the Cowboys while he inspired himself from true Native American like Geronimo to represent the Indians.
The 10 prints were created in 1986 and represent, from let to right: a Plains Indian shield, a mother with her child, Geronimo, an Indian head nickel, Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne, Annie Oakley, General Custer, a Northwest coast mask and 2 Kachina dolls.
My third favourite work is another series: the Mao.
This series was produced in 1972, inspired by the historic visit of the then US President Richard Nixon to China earlier the same year.
These 10 prints were based on the official portrait of the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong as illustrated on the cover of the widely circulated 1966 publication Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, also know as the Little Red Book. Warhol saw a parallel between Communist propaganda and American media, as well as the cult-like followings of Mao in the East and movie or music stars in the West and therefore executed this series echoing his portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley…
The series displayed is a full series of 10 prints but 2 of them are hung on an adjoining wall and this is why the picture below only counts 8 portraits.
We cannot talk about Warhol without talking about his first works of art: the Campbell’s Soup Cans.
In this room, dedicated to the Campbell’s Soup Cans, there is an original painting from 1962 as well as a series of 10 prints from 1968.
We can note that his technique has considerably evolve. Indeed, with the used of the mechanical silkscreen technique, he has totally removed the direct hand of the artist from the artistic process, allowing him to duplicate his work like the machine he wanted to be.
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