A historic Andy Warhol exhibition is coming to St. Petersburg.
With a wigged, bespectacled staff and music by the Velvet Underground as a backdrop, Dali Museum executive director Hank Hine announced that the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh will loan more than 100 works for "Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality."
Hine, who also donned the white wig and oversized glasses that were Warhol's signature look, calls it "a big deal," and he's right. It is the largest selection of Warhol art ever exhibited in west central Florida and probably the entire state. It is organized by William Jeffett, chief curator of exhibitions at the Dali, which will be the show's only venue when it opens Jan. 18, continuing through April 27.
On loan from the Warhol Museum will be about 35 paintings plus drawings, prints, photographs, video and films. Among his most well-known works are celebrity portraits, represented in this exhibition by a series of nine early acrylic and silkscreen images of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. His famous soup can images and Heinz ketchup boxes are included.
Warhol (1928-1987) was one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. He was the star of Pop Art, a genre rising to prominence in the 1960s, that appropriates consumer images and popular culture.
This is the first exhibition of a major artist in addition to Dali in the current building, which opened in 2011 in downtown St. Petersburg.
Hine called Salvador Dali and Warhol "strange brothers" because they were fascinated by the culture of their time and used it in their art. Both were adept at bringing new media into their work, such as video, and loved experimenting with new forms. They were social animals, gathering large circles of people from diverse backgrounds around them. And each man created an outrageous public persona that became a defining feature of a career, making them as well known as their creative output.
The two met often at Warhol's Factory or Dali's suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. Dali was one of many celebrities who appear in Warhol's three-minute films in which he turned the camera on his subject and asked that they be still for the duration. It, too, is part of the exhibition, with Dali looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable.
Hine said the museum is planning a number of interactive and special events. In a nod to Warhol's now classic line about everyone's "15 minutes of fame," visitors can make their own one-minute screen tests in a studio set up at the museum that can be posted to social networks. He's hoping to collaborate with the Salvation Army on a benefit in which a visitor receives free admission in exchange for cans of soup, which would be donated to the not-for-profit.
Warhol died unexpectedly in 1987 after a routine gall bladder operation. The Warhol Museum opened in 1994, the largest in the United States devoted to a single artist. It has more than 12,000 works in its permanent collection in addition to thousands more items in its documentary archives.
Jeffett said he chose works for the special exhibition at the Dali that represented the broad range both of Warhol's works and his relationships. He put it together in "less than a year," he said, with an emphasis on paintings throughout his career. Hine said it had been planned for an earlier date at the Dali but the Warhol Museum, which is a generous lender, had many of the choice works traveling to museums in Asia.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.