BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art presents the first U.S. museum exhibition to explore the late works of the iconic American artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987). On view October 17, 2010 through January 9, 2011, More than 50 works reveal the Pop artist’s energetic return to painting and renewed spirit of experimentation from 1976-1986, while in the midst of his celebrity. This period shows Warhol creating more paintings and on a vastly larger scale than at any other moment of his 40-year career. Exhibition highlights include psychologically revealing fright wig self-portraits, three variations on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and collaborations with younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. Several of these works—assembled from national and international public and private collections, as well as the BMA’s exceptional collection of late works by Warhol—were not exhibited until after the artist’s death.
More than a decade after declaring “Painting is old-fashioned,” Warhol returned to the medium in the late 1970s as an internationally renowned artist famous for his experimental films as well as his silkscreened Pop art images of soup cans and celebrities. His artistic development during this time is characterized by a dramatic transformation of his style and the introduction of new techniques. He both incorporates and pushes beyond his screen-printed Pop images, and reengages in the physical act of art making through hand painting, folding, and staining. Warhol was also engaged in a dialogue between abstraction and representation beginning with the Oxidation series (1977-78) and silkscreened Shadows (1978-79). In the 1980s he collaborated with Basquiat and Francesco Clemente, mixing graffiti and street imagery with his own Pop vocabulary. A new studio building, purchased in 1984, enabled him to pursue monumental proportions, creating works like The Last Supper that stretch from 25 to 35 feet in width, immersing viewers in dramatic fields of color.
Among the many works Warhol created in series are the Yarn paintings (1983) that evoke Jackson Pollock’s “drip” works, enormous Rorschach paintings (1984), a group of Pop-influenced Black & White Ads (1985-86), and several variations of Camouflage patterns (1986). He revisits his own image throughout the decade with Self-Portraits ranging from the youthful outlined figure repeated on wallpaper (1978) to the severely aged fright-wig representations (1986). As Warhol probed the place of painting in a culture awash with photographic and commercial imagery, his work continued to ask viewers to contemplate celebrity (including his own), glamour, and death in the contemporary era.