Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years is taking over the Tisch Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall, going beyond the typical discussions of Warhol's influence on contemporary art and into the realm of his impact on sixty other artists during and after his time. Structured in five thematic sections — Daily News: From Banality to Disaster, Portraiture: Celebrity and Power, Queer Studies: Shifting Identities, Consuming Images: Appropriation, Abstraction, Seriality, and No Boundaries: Business, Collaboration, and Spectacle — the 150-piece exhibition is one-third Warhol, beginning with his work in 1961 and ending with the youngest contemporary artists in the show.
Viewers will immediately realize the numerous intertwining conversations between the artists and topics in the exhibition. Discussions arise between the media and disaster, consumerism and identity, celebrity and power, and imaging and repetition. Spanning multiple rooms, its impact is a heavy one, broken up by moments of relief, including a final full-room installation, where Warhol's Cow Wallpaper meets Silver Clouds, as The Velvet Underground's music joyfully plays in the background. The walk-through humorously ends in a gift shop, as a tongue-in-cheek gesture referencing Warhol's numerous explorations of mass-consumption, inviting you to partake in it.
Despite well-known works by John Baldesssari, Jeff Koons, Hans Haacke, Robert Gober, Barbara Kruger, Ai Weiwei, and many more, the video pieces by the exhibition's youngest artist, Ryan Trecartin, stood out in a way that encapsulated the show's relatability to the present. His over-saturated actors speak in high, quickened voices, muttering lines like, "I prefer my products to define who I am," and "I'm touch-screen sensitive." At one point, a character says, "Am I over-existing or am I over-existing?"
Conceived by Mark Rosenthal five years ago, the project has finally come to light, and at an excellent moment. Too often, Warhol's legacy is associated with the flowers and celebrity portraits he is most famous for, but the exhibition brings the truth to light — he was ultimately interested in the darker side of humanity. The most successful art and artists of the exhibition appear to realize the intellectual complexity of his work, even though, as an artist, he constantly sought to reduce it. Warhol was famous for responding to interview questions with the answer, "I don't know," but after visiting this exhibit, a smart viewer will realize that he knew much more about the present and future than we give him credit for.
Visit Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 18 through December 31, 2012. The exhibition will travel to The Warhol Museum from February 2 through April 28, 2013.