The Portland Art Museum has announced that Warhol Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation will open October 8, 2016. The exhibition will run through January 1st, 2017.
Printmaking was a vital artistic practice for Andy Warhol. Prints figure prominently throughout his career from his earliest work as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s, to the collaborative silkscreens made in the Factory during the ‘60s and the commissioned portfolios of his final years. Portland collector Jordan D. Schnitzer’s comprehensive collection establishes the range of Warhol’s innovative graphic production as it evolved over the course of four decades. The artist’s well-known fascination with popular culture also instills the exhibition with a chronicle of American life in the second half of the twentieth century. The two threads come together to reveal how Warhol’s print publishing enterprise underscores the evolution of today’s hyper sophisticated, saturated, and savvy visual culture.
The exhibition is organized chronologically and by series. The structure demonstrates Warhol’s use of different printmaking techniques, beginning with illustrated books and ending with screen printing. The exhibition also highlights links between Warhol’s obsession with serial image repetition and the essence of printmaking as a mechanical means for reproducing images. With this convergence, Warhol famously complicated distinctions between the original and the reproduction. The results muddied the conventional approach of highly valuing unique works that display the artist’s touch, instead celebrating print multiples as a medium for experimentation.
Warhol’s prints present a journey through the reproduced image in American popular culture: from icons Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Marilyn Monroe to the socially charged Birmingham Race Riots and political posters of the 1970s. In its entirety, the exhibition offers a bellwether of contemporary life and society’s ongoing obsession with celebrities, fashion, political figures, athletes, sensationalism, and scandal.