A busy season at the Warhol – Marilyn, Sweden, and Alaska

It has been a busy few months at the Warhol as we have sent major exhibitions to Indianapolis, Indiana and Anchorage, Alaska and opened our major fall exhibition Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend.

September ended with a trip to Ornskoldsviks, Sweden to oversee the deinstallation of the Warhol’s The Prints of Andy Warhol exhibition. The staff of the museum was very friendly and the galleries had state of the art temperature and humidity controls making it a perfect venue to exhibit Warhol artwork. In my free time, I was able to visit the Baltic Sea and do some trout fishing at an inland lake, too.

Upon my return to the Warhol, my team in the Exhibitions Department (Tony, Mike, Erin, Alissa, Dennis, and Matt) and the staff of the Registrar’s Department (Heather and Caitlin) began installing the Marilyn Monroe exhibit. I have been planning this exhibit for the past 18 months, laying out the works in CAD, writing text for the exhibition, and deciding which works would fit into the galleries. I chose to go with Benjamin Moore’s Million Dollar Red paint color for the main gallery on the 7th floor since I knew the paint would work well with the framed photographs. Many essential Marilyn Monroe photographs are on view in this gallery – the early Tom Kelly nudes, late 1940s Bernard of Hollywood cheesecake photos, gorgeous Milton Greene posed color photographs, Douglas Kirkland’s famous “One Night with Marilyn” series and Bert Stern’s not quite final photo series titled “The Last Sitting.” Some Marilyn-related magazines and newspapers from Andy Warhol’s personal collection were added by our Archivist, Matt Wrbican.

For this special exhibition, I contracted a Master Gilder, Joseph Youss Kadri, to cover the walls of the 7th floor hallway with permanent brass leaf in the style of Warhol’s 1950s drawings.

The smaller gallery on the 7th floor contains 96 publicity photographs of Marilyn Monroe collected by Warhol in anticipation of his groundbreaking Marilyn series. Also included are a complete series of Warhol’s Marilyn prints, a Warhol Marilyn painting, and a De Kooning Marilyn painting, loaned graciously by the Neuberger Museum of Art.

The exhibition continues in three galleries on the 4th floor with artwork created after Marilyn’s death by artists influenced by Marilyn Monroe. Artists included are Peter Beard, Christopher Makos, Robert Indiana, and many others. We are also thrilled to borrow a Richard Pettibone Marilyn painting (signed by Andy Warhol!) on loan from Andrew Terner. The exquisitely designed title and text panels throughout the exhibition are the work of the Warhol’s Abby Franzen-Sheehan. The exhibition is on view through January 2, 2011.

Upon completing the installation, I traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to oversee the installation of the major exhibition Andy Warhol: Manufactured, which opens November 5. The exhibition’s Curator, Julie Decker, has been working with our Curator of Film and Video, Geralyn Huxley, and me for the past two years to select the paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and film and video material for the exhibit. I knew from the start that Julie had a keen eye, selecting many key Warhol works and other influential pieces. The assortment of artworks assembled in Anchorage makes this a truly unique Warhol exhibition which you should not miss.

Jesse Kowalski

Director of Exhibitions