Monday, 28 September 2015

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: ANDY WARHOL POPS-UP IN 'VANCITY' AND THE '6IX'

MUSEUM MONDAYS

BY: MAYA DONKERS

March 2015 – living in Vancouver, the word on the street was that Andy Warhol had come to the city. Obviously, not the ‘master’ of pop art himself, but rather 80 of his greatest prints and paintings. The best part – all for free.

September 2015 – having just moved to Toronto, murmurings surfaced of an Andy Warhol pop-up exhibition that had opened this past summer. What was the word on the street? Rumour had it that the Toronto exhibit was different but better than that in Vancouver.

This was a perspective certainly worth exploring. Not through the work of Andy Warhol – which is undoubtedly genius no matter where it is exhibited – but rather through the use of the chosen space in both cities.


VANCOUVER: WARHOL: A DIFFERENT IDEA OF LOVE

Opening Date: March 1, 2015 / Closing Date: April 28, 2015

The Warhol collection on display in Yaletown’s Maison Ai came from Canadian entrepreneur Ron Rivlin's private collection at Beverly Hills based Revolver Gallery, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Rivlin and The Andy Warhol Foundation provided Vancouver with the largest collection of Warhol works ever displayed in Canada (Scalza, 2015). In fact, the pop-up was so successful that Vancity Buzz announced that the exhibit was going to remain open due to overwhelming demand.

In an effort to avoid waiting in line, I arrived at Maison Ai early. Coincidentally, there already was a line stretched the length of the block. Not only did this bode well for the local coffee shops, but visitors also appeared perfectly content to wait on a crisp spring morning. It seemed that there was a collective understanding that the pop-up exhibit was focused on the exclusive experience of the viewer, only allowing a curated number of visitors in at a time.

Once inside the warehouse, approximately sixty visitors wandered the unfinished space that was lined with the vibrant colour of some of pop art’s most iconic faces.

A range of visitors enjoying Warhol at Maison Ai (Image Source)

The presentation of Warhol at a warehouse in Vancouver provided a unique parallel to Warhol’s Factory in New York City.

Andy Warhol in The Factory (Image Source)

This representation enabled the pop-up exhibition to be reminiscent of the socialites, political figures and celebrities who frequented Warhol’s Factory, without the added glamour of a ‘finished’ exhibition space.


TORONTO: ANDY WARHOL: REVISITED A POP ART EXHIBITION


Opening Date: July 1, 2015 / Closing Date: December 31, 2015

Also courtesy of Ron Rivlin's collection at the Revolver Gallery, and continued contributions from The Andy Warhol Foundation, the pop-up exhibit is in Yorkville’s Mink Mile retail space. The Warhol collection on display in Toronto surpassed Vancouver’s 80 works, with over 120 rotating works from Revolver Gallery.

Arriving early once again, I was the first one in the gallery. This time, there was no line and no buzzing chatter about "what happened last night" or "tell me what you know about Warhol before we go in." Although I am confident this is a downside to a six-month pop-up, with more accessibility hours, it was nonetheless notable as the rest of Bloor Street West was bustling with the start of the day.

A $5 student admission charge and I was inside the once-was retail space. Immediately noting the wall of iconic Campbell's Soup Cans, I was soon informed by exhibit staff that the space was curated thematically and chronologically – facts I found both relevant and distinctly different from the Vancouver warehouse.

Comparative view of interior space. Photo Credit: Maya Donkers 

Overall, the space is finished to perfection. I was taken aback by the intricate detail and glamour of the presentation. The space may not have transported the viewer to romanticized notions about Warhol’s factory, but it certainly enabled a discussion on glamour, consumerism and the embodiment of pop art.


VANCOUVER TO TORONTO: FINAL MUSINGS

I presented my impression of the space of two pop-up Andy Warhol exhibits that opened in the same year. As for my findings on whether one was ‘bigger and better’ than the other? I would say, to each their own.

For more than 30 years, Andy Warhol crafted work that remains instilled in popular culture today. As best described from Revolver Gallery, Warhol was a "mirror of his age" whose work challenged the american public to reevaluate the meaning of art if post-war consumer culture (Revolver Gallery, 2015).

Considering the realities of what Warhol's work challenged, I do find it interesting that both exhibits were geographically located in two of the wealthiest and consumer-heavy neighbourhoods in each respective city. Do you?


References

Andy Warhol Revisited. (2015, July). About the Exhibition. Retrieved from https://warholrevisited/com/about/

Scalza, R. (2015, March 2). Huge Andy Warhol Exhibit Opens in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2015/03/02/biggest-andy-warhol-exhibit-ever-in-canada-opens-in-vancouver-for-free/

2 comments:

  1. I do find it interesting that both exhibits were presented on the flip side of the same coin but located on the upper ledge of society. Your article is thought provoking. I look forward to reading more museum musings!

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  2. Great article. Loved the comparison of the two cities.

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