Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to announce Andy Warhol: Shadows. The exhibition will be on view from March 18 through April 23, 2016.
Known for his appropriations of popular culture and advertising vernacular, Andy Warhol is synonymous with Pop Art. In the second half of the 1970s, however, Warhol became increasingly preoccupied with the darker side of mass culture. With precedents in works like his Electric Chair series, Warhol’s aesthetics of repetition shifted from a critical celebration of Madison Avenue marketing to moody studies of existential concepts like absence and mortality. His Still Life, Hammer and Sickle and Skulls series from the 1970s use shadows to accentuate contrast. As a result, the subjects of these series – and many of his self-portraits from the same period – are thrown ever deeper into abstraction.
In 1978, Heiner Friedrich, co-founder of what is now known as Dia Art Foundation, invited Warhol to create a site-specific artwork for a space in New York’s Soho neighborhood. Warhol used the opportunity to create what he called “disco décor,” an immersive installation of 102 large canvases that hung edge to edge around the perimeter of the room. More abstract than any of Warhol’s previous works, the canvases layer silkscreened images of shadows over painted backgrounds in seventeen different colors. Though the 1978 installation included only two shadow images, various others were used by Warhol in the complete Shadows series, comprising not only the 102 paintings in the collection of Dia Art Foundation but smaller painted canvases and works on paper, many of which have been brought together for this exhibition.
While Warhol limited himself to monochromatic backgrounds for the grouping of 102 canvases, he explored color in both the backgrounds and silkscreened shadow forms in the smaller works. Veering toward the psychedelic, some canvases swirl with thick rainbows of pastel pigment while elegant combinations of silkscreened color give the works on paper an exploratory yet refined feel. Diamond dust sprinkled atop the works gives some of the forms an added illusion of depth, managing – like so much of Warhol’s work – to be at once glamorous and smart.
Following Camouflage in 2011 and Robots & Space Ships in 2013, Andy Warhol: Shadows is the third exhibition of works by Andy Warhol presented by Honor Fraser Gallery. Four years in the making, Andy Warhol: Shadows is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue designed by Brian Roettinger with a new essay by Vincent Fremont.