Curated by James Cavello
In the late 70’s and into the 1980’s Warhol was at the height of creating silkscreened editions of his art and had streamlined the screenprinting process. He hired master printmaker, Rupert Jasen Smith, who worked with Warhol on the process of silkscreening from inception to final image, hand pulling thousands of silkscreen prints. Rupert and his printers worked grueling hours, yet stayed in the background of Warhol’s limelight. The laborious printing process included selecting a black and white photograph transferred to a framed silkscreen, tracing the image, delineating paint areas and hand pulling each paint color across the screen onto the paper or canvas. The initial screenprint was transferred to a large, experimental sheet of newsprint, which was easy to discard if not to Warhol’s liking. The large sheets made it possible to view various color combinations and qualities of line, developing unique working material for discussion.
The unique screenprints in the gallery exhibition provide a view into Warhol’s creative process, revealing the imperfections of paint drips and aberrations in the paper. The Marx Brothers portrait exemplifies the initial trial of creating an outline to simulate a hand-drawn line of the faces of
Warhol’s portraits are symbols of the fame and celebrity that made him popular, but they are also testimonials of his creative genius in pushing the boundaries of the medium. These experimental screenprints are precursors of what became renowned and sought-after editioned prints, and the differences between the artworks on view and the final prints are evident.
The exhibition highlights photographs of the creative milieu at Warhol’s factory, by Bob Adelman, Jonas Mekas and W.J. Kennedy. Adelman’s legendary images include Warhol on the Factory red couch, shopping at a nearby Gristedes for Brillo Boxes as a source of inspiration, posing with his flower paintings, and Warhol on the floor with “The American Man” suite. Avant-garde film-maker Jonas Mekas documented Warhol outside the Factory, in a decades-long video diary started in 1963 (on view are a 1980s portrait and 1970s images of Warhol in Montauk, at the Kennedy compound). W.J. Kennedy photographed images of Warhol on the Factory fire-escape with his famous self portrait, showing the first transparent Marilyn silkscreen and frolicking with artist Taylor Mead. Together, the three photographers evoke the legendary Factory atmosphere and the creative personality of the influential artist.