Andy Warhol: The Portfolios
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Andy Warhol, king of the reproduced image, has work on show in the Dulwich Picture Gallery until the 16th September. This gallery is England’s first public art gallery, founded in 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois donated his collection of old masters. This exhibition, The Portfolios, features some of Warhol’s most eminent silk-screen prints as well as lesser known sets.
Warhol’s fame revolves around him being the most successful artist to take a simple image and make it iconic through reproduction techniques of the late 20th century. His renowned prints were, cheap, adaptable and made in large quantities. This show illustrates this from the start, with the first room you enter, showing his prominent repeated images of Campbell’s Soup, Marilyn Monroe and Flowers. He had an ability to highlight certain content within his images, that are only emphasised more and more through consumerist repetition. The mass production of the culture associated with lower social classes is a significant theme, in Warhol’s work, alongside fame and death.
There is not much of Warhol's work in this gallery that you wouldn't recognise straight away, with its legendary Pop-Art style. However, to my surprise there were certain pieces that I would not have even associated with Warhol, within this collection, such as the Myths and Endangered Species collection. These less known prints are increasingly colourful, highlighting Warhol’s genius as a colourist. This is particularly shown in his set, ‘Vesuvius’, which was repeated in fifty-seven colour variations. The three that are illustrated, were to me the best and most intriguing pieces in the exhibition, they have unique colours with an almost sketch like effect over the image.
Many may only go to this exhibition to see the famous and commercial prints of Warhol, but I do encourage you to take time over the lesser known pieces. They will remind the viewer of Warhol’s impressive talents, especially within colour and compositional drawing work, instead of his notorious genius in effortless silk-screen mass production.