The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Modern

After weeks of waiting – Andy Warhol at Tate Modern

Or #screenprintingacelebritylifestyle

Andy Warhol exhibitions usually follow a very similar pattern: Look he liked celebrities so made paintings of celebrities, look he liked soup, look he became a celebrity so here are some photos of him with celebrities, look he developed a fascination with death after (spoiler alert) being shot.

Occasionally, if there’s space, you also get an early room featuring his drawings of shoes.

Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Modern
The Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern has been extended until November 15
The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Modern
I’m very pleased the easing of the lockdown meant the Andy Warhol exhibition was able to open
Some early drawings by Andy Warhol
The exhibition includes some early drawings by Andy Warhol

It would be impossible to do an Andy Warhol exhibition without the paintings of celebrities and the photos of him as he gradually gets more famous so there’s no surprise that there are plenty of those pictures in the Tate Modern exhibition.

But what’s also there is what has been lacking in previous shows I have seen is the influence of his family – especially his mother – and how he fitted in to the gay scene in 1960s New York City.

Instead of a just a passing nod to his mother’s influence she is there in the very powerful item you see first as you enter the gallery on the third floor of the building and – I’d argue – her religious influence over her son shows its importance in the final striking pictures too.

She is there in a film clip where she is lying down as if she wants to sleep but is also occasionally talking to her son.

And she is also there in photographs and a magazine article where he was said to be annoyed the publication quoted her verbatim, instead of correcting the grammar.

Round Marilyn by Andy Warhol
This is my favourite picture from the exhibition so obviously, keeping with art gallery tradition, it was not available as a postcard in the shop
Andy Warhol in the silver Factory
Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’ was decorated with tin foil and silver paint
Debbie Harry by Andy Warhol
Debbie Harry was just one of the stars Andy Warhol created pictures of
Andy Warhol used screenprinting techniques to make a lot of his artworks
Andy Warhol used screenprinting techniques to make a lot of his artworks

In the world of now where if someone is famous their relatives usually get some kind of fame by default, I’m not sure how Andy Warhol would feel about the scrutiny his mother’s Twitter account would come under in 21st century America.

But I’m sure he would have loved the merch on sale in the gift shop – as is tradition they saw fit not to have a postcard of my favourite painting from the exhibition (the Gold Marilyn) but did have a Where’s Warhol book (if you know Where’s Wally/ Where’s Waldo you get the idea), mugs, puzzle cubes, posters and all other sorts of things.

It’s a shame they haven’t been able to update the items available to include face masks to reflect the time we are now living in.

Instead, with the posters and trays showing the original date when it was set to close, there’s a sense (apart from everyone wearing masks) it is a time capsule to the pre-coronavirus days.

But firmly in these days of coronavirus was a darkened room they had to close off because social distancing would not be possible in the darkness- so you could read about it instead.

A lot of Andy Warhol's art features classic American icons
A lot of Andy Warhol’s art features classic American icons
Race Riot by Andy Warhol
Sadly this image from the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 of Black protesters being fire-hosed and set upon by police dogs could have just as easily been painted in 2020
Silver Clouds by Andy Warhol
Social distancing has led to the Silver Clouds not being something gallery-goers can interact with
Sixty Last Suppers by Andy Warhol
I’d argue Andy Warhol’s Catholic background is a big part of why he painted Sixty Last Suppers

There was no mention of how the Silver Clouds are supposed to be displayed nor whether they had changed it to ensure it adhered to social distancing but during my visit they were just high up nestling against the ceiling, instead of being able to be played with.

It’s a shame but it was expected and those of you who read the second episode of Fiskal Policy will know just how pleased I am that it has been able to open.

What’s more they have extended it to November so – hopefully I can see it again when the winter comes.

I’d still advise you to see it sooner rather than later though because no-one knows what will happen in the future. There’s no guarantees we won’t have a second lockdown and then our only outings will be back to being the supermarket and one walk a day.

Stay safe for another week!