Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book: "Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image"

Warhol/Icon was a major exhibition co-created by Haunch of Venison and Potnia Thiron Gallery in Athens, which explored Andy Warhol's obsession with fame through his work as a painter of ‘icons’. The emphasis in the exhibition was on the relationship between Warhol’s own Byzantine religious beliefs, Slavic background and devotion to his mystical mother, and his apparently unfettered celebration of an American celebrity culture.

Set against the backdrop of the world’s greatest collection of Byzantine icons, Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image brought together a selection of the works which helped Warhol reinvent portraiture in the second half of the twentieth century.

Common to the historic and modern concepts of an icon, the idea of worship is central. Warhol’s work endorses, dissects – and employs – those processes by which a real person’s identity becomes progressively obscured by their glamorized, iconic representation in the mass-media. Seen in the context of the Byzantine and Christian Museum’s historic icons, Warhol’s modern ‘icons’ are presented as the outcome of a complex metamorphosis in which the real has been transformed into a complex but glorious abstraction.

Statue of Andy Warhol in Medzilaborce, Slovakia, with an Orthodox Church in the background.

Highlights of the exhibition included a poignant medley of paintings of the bereaving Jackie Kennedy, and several exceptional images of Marilyn Monroe, Mao and Warhol himself. Each of these figures are idealized to the point where their ‘image’ transcends their private, personal identity.

Curated by the distinguished Warhol scholar Paul Moorhouse, the exhibition probed the enduring significance and value of the icon, connecting historic sacred antecedents with Warhol’s modern icons: images of the famous created in a celebrity-obsessed secular era.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image at the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, 7 October 2009 – 10 January 2010.