Andy Warhol Is Too Much Artist To Contain In This Blockbuster Exhibition At Tate Modern

Andy Warhol, Tate Modern ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 43 months ago

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Andy Warhol Is Too Much Artist To Contain In This Blockbuster Exhibition At Tate Modern Andy Warhol, Tate Modern 4

I've just kicked some silver helium balloons out of the way to enter a darkened room filled with music to watch some close ups of crotch on crotch action. This isn't a gimmicky new London night spot but part of an impressive Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern.

Even if you know nothing about art, Andy Warhol is a name you've come across. Rightly so, the man changed the face of modern art and Tate Modern's curators have done a great job of showing us how diverse his oeuvre was. From an early video of his sleeping lover to his iconic images of Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell's soup cans.

Marilyn Diptych, 1962, Tate. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

Rather than just sticking to the artwork we get a good look at Andy Warhol the man. He was born Andy Warhola to first generation immigrants from what is now Slovakia. He looked at the glamorous lifestyle sold by Hollywood, dropped the 'a' in his surname, underwent cosmetic surgery and got a massive batch of silver haired wigs to cement his new look.

Later in his career some art critics would condemn him for 'selling out', though it's clear from an early age he was intent on buying in. As Warhol once said:

Making money is art, and working is art — and good business is the best art.

A room plastered with silver foil recreates Warhol's Factory, his studio and arguably the original creative hub, that was both a social space and a place where collaborations blossomed. The original co-working space — you know, the type that plagues east London — if you will.

There are plenty of his better known works to keep Warhol fans happy.

This leads us neatly into the room filled with silver helium balloons that you have to wade through. I push them out of the way and get gently knocked on the head by one as I'm trying to take a photo. They will appear all over Instagram feeds and you can't help but feel Warhol would have loved the idea of his creations going viral had he lived to see the internet age. After all he did once famously claim that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes".

Because Andy Warhol created a huge portfolio of work and dealt with big concepts including our relationship  with consumer goods, celebrity culture and wider socio-political issues it's impossible to create a comprehensive survey of his work and with every room I wanted to know more about him than this exhibition could offer.

However, it would be unfair to hold that against what is already a vast exhibition that provides a superb overview of Warhol's work — it's just he's too much artist to contain in one show. Time for me to head back into the room filled with silver helium balloons and grab my 15 minutes of fun.

Andy Warhol is on at Tate Modern until 15 November 2020. Tickets are £22 for adults.

Last Updated 27 July 2020