“It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring on Elizabeth Taylor’s finger.” – Andy Warhol
Heather James is proud to exhibit in our Jackson Hole gallery a selection of artworks by Andy Warhol that captures his irreverent world and insouciant spirit. The preeminent Pop artist, Warhol was known as much for his portraits of the famous and infamous as well as icons of consumer culture, as seen in Campbell’s Hot Dog Bean or Mobil Gas. With the dominance and saturation of social media, Warhol more than ever is literally and metaphorically all around us.
Warhol began making silkscreen paintings in 1962 because of its assembly line process in which he could remove the hand of the artist as much as possible. To create these works, Warhol would select photographs from newspapers and magazines, send them to a printer to be enlarged on silk screens, and then direct Factory assistants to lay the screens over canvases and apply his carefully chosen colors with a squeegee.
This merger of color, symbolism, and silkscreen can be seen in Hammer & Sickle and Vote McGovern. Like the best of Warhol, these works transform the mundane into objects of glamor, temptation, and danger. Warhol’s obsession with wealth and fame emerged in works that combine the dazzling and the darkly tragic. Even humble farm creatures like Cow (IIA Blue Background) become enchantingly raffish and Warhol brings an animal of genre paintings into the urban life.
A highlight of the exhibition is Gems, a set of 4 screenprints comprising two rubies, an emerald and a diamond. Gems and jewels have been an inspiration for many artists including George Balanchine for his ballet, Jewels, which is also made up of the same three gems – Rubies, Emeralds, and Diamonds. Elizabeth Taylor, one of Warhol’s favorite subjects, loved rubies.
Warhol was an avid collector of jewelry and the extent of his premier collection was only known after his death. It was an obsession that is glimpsed in this suite where Warhol has heightened their allure. As Andy Warhol once said, “When I am in Rome I always visit Bulgari, because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.”