Museum Announces Gift of 10 Warhols to Its Collection
On View June 12 through September 13, 2015
Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art announces its exciting summer exhibition, From Marilyn to Mao: Andy Warhol’s Famous Faces, on view June 12 through September 13, 2015. The exhibition is a thematically-focused look at the artist’s influential silkscreens and his interest in portraits. Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is central to the pop art movement and one of the best-known 20th-century American artists. From Marilyn to Mao uses 46 of Warhol’s famous portraits to explore pop art’s tenet of the cult of celebrity, the idea that pop culture adores the famous simply because they are famous. Warhol exploited society’s collective obsession with fame like no artist before or after him. The exhibition celebrates the Mao suite, an anonymous gift to the CMA of the complete set of 10 silkscreens Warhol created in 1972 of Mao Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party of China (1949-1976).
“The CMA is very grateful for the generous gift of Warhol’s complete Mao suite to our collection by an anonymous donor,” says CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius. “In honor of the gift, we organized From Marilyn to Mao with this significant acquisition of 10 Maos as the centerpiece. The gift strengthens the museum’s growing collection and its concentration on modern and contemporary art. Our deep thanks to The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Penn. and to Bank of America for being major lenders to this exhibition and providing support which is essential to sharing this remarkable selection of Warhol’s work with the Midlands.”
Warhol first gained success as a commercial illustrator before becoming a world-renowned artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s–concepts he continued to examine throughout his career. His art forms a mirror of the rise of commercialism and the cult of personality. He was not a judge of his subjects as much as a talented impresario who brought thousands of people into the pantheon of fame, if only for fifteen minutes. Some, such as Marilyn Monroe, got a few more minutes.
“Andy Warhol defines American popular culture like no other visual artist,” says CMA Chief Curator Will South. “Warhol’s subjects were taken right off the supermarket shelf–everyone knows his Campbell’s Soup cans. His subjects were also taken off the silver screen–he was obsessed with the famous and the idea of fame itself. Today, nearly four decades after his death, the art world is still obsessed with Warhol. His art demands the highest prices in the art market, while exhibitions of his work draw fans that were not even born when he was alive. Warhol’s central position begs an all important question: did he really love consumer goods and celebrities and find them all beautiful, or was his life’s work a critique of American materialism? From Marilyn to Mao: Andy Warhol’s Famous Faces is a major exhibition focused on the artist’s celebrity subjects, and it is a great opportunity to think about (or rethink) what Warhol and his art mean in a world that arguably remains every bit as enthralled with pop culture as Andy was.”
In addition to Marilyn Monroe and Mao Zedong, the exhibition includes the faces of Judy Garland, Muhammad Ali, Sigmund Freud, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Albert Einstein, Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt, Giorgio Armani, and Superman as well as two self-portraits by Warhol, to name a few. The majority of the works outside of the CMA’s Mao suite are loaned by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Penn. The CMA has also secured a partnership loan with Bank of America to borrow seven pieces from their collection. The run of the exhibition is filled with an array of related evening and daytime programs for adults and families.
“Bank of America is a leading supporter of the arts because a thriving arts and culture sector benefits economies and connects our communities,” said Kim Wilkerson, South Carolina president of Bank of America. “A unique way that we support the arts is through the Art in Our Communities® program which allows our corporate collection to be used as a community resource from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow exhibitions at no cost. We’re proud to partner with the Columbia Museum of Art to sponsor this event and to loan several works from our Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legendsexhibition which has traveled to museums around the world.”
Presenting Sponsor: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina; Gold Sponsor: Bank of America; Silver Sponsors: Columbia Marriott and Marcia and Allen Montgomery; Bronze Sponsors: Adams and Reese LLP, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Gimarc, and Susan Thorpe and John Baynes; Friends of Warhol Sponsors: Ms. Cheryl R. Holland and Mr. P. Douglas Quackenbush and Carol Saunders; Supporting Sponsors: Tony and Sheila DiCioccio and Dr. and Mrs. W. John Bayard.