In a stellar career spanning more than 35 years, Warhol explored the intersection between art and commerce like no other artist in history, with profound implications for subsequent generations. This approach is most clearly expressed in 1985’s Ads series, which was created both as a portfolio of prints and as a set of ten paintings on canvas.
Iconic Warhol exhibition Beyond the Brand opens at Halcyon Gallery
18th January 2024
Halcyon Gallery’s extensive exhibition dedicated to the life and work of American pop artist and cultural icon Andy Warhol opens on the 18th January. Bringing together his most iconic print portfolios, commercial work and rarely seen original canvases, Beyond the Brand encompasses the full range of Warhol’s pictorial inventions and demonstrates the extraordinary power of his unique artistic vision.
Presented by Halcyon Gallery
Ads Series, 1985
Through Ads, Warhol reimagined famous adverts, marketing Apple computers, Volkswagen cars and Chanel No. 5 amongst others, rendering them with vibrant colours and transforming them into powerful works of art. In so doing, he blurred the line between commercial design and fine art more directly than at any point in his career. The silkscreen prints and paintings are displayed together for the first time, making this show a must-see for Warhol enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Iconic Print Portfolios
In addition to the Ads series, many of Warhol’s most iconic print portfolios are on display including Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth II, Chairman Mao, Muhammad Ali and the Endangered Species collection, which, says Kate Brown, ‘is a much-loved portfolio and still very relevant today.’
Other highlights include rarely seen original canvases such as Warhol's portrait of Pelé. This painting was owned by the Brazilian football legend, who was presented with it by Warhol himself.
Some of the artist’s monumental late works are also exhibited, such as his Vesuvius 365 painting, and a vibrant canvas depicting a Rado wristwatch. Anatom (Rado Watches) is the final commission - and one of the last works - that the artist undertook before his death on 22 February 1987. It is one of three paintings that Warhol created to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the high-end watch brand Rado Switzerland.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most important visual artists of the 20th Century, Warhol continues to inspire the digital generation, and his work is more collectable than ever. In May 2022, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) sold for $195 million at Christie's, becoming the most expensive American artwork ever sold at auction. The same year, Silver Liz (Ferus Type) sold for 2.3 billion yen ($18.9 million) at Shinwa Auction - a record amount for the Japanese auction market.
Paul Green, Founder and President of Halcyon Gallery said: "For over 30 years, Halcyon has been privileged to participate in the acquisition and sale of works by one of the most important and influential artists the world has ever seen.
Our long-standing commitment to building distinguished art collections; putting on world class, museum scale exhibitions that are freely accessible to the general public; and working closely with prestigious institutions around the globe, has only enhanced our expertise in showcasing and handling his work."
Kate Brown, Halcyon Gallery’s creative director and curator of the exhibition, said: "This exhibition is a comprehensive overview of Warhol’s creative life, from his earliest artworks and illustrations to the last works he ever produced. Visitors to the gallery will be given an overarching view of his entire career, including the chance to see many of his iconic portfolios in their entirety.
Warhol’s seismic contribution to the story of art is that he tied his work to a collective consciousness more closely than any other artist had before. His art is a pure reflection of popular culture in his lifetime and the spirit of western capitalism."
Art historian and museum curator Joachim Pissarro’s accompanying essay to the exhibition explains: "Ads is a masterful culmination of Warhol’s career-long interest in the blurred lines between commercialism and fine art, and it resituates these omnipresent themes into a new state-of-the art array consonant with this late era’s zeitgeist.
These ads radiate themes such as cosmopolitanism, technology, movie stardom, political power, elegance and luxury in a visual vocabulary that was at stark odds with the deceptively homespun, quaint but enchanting output of Warhol’s own wildly successful career as a commercial illustrator thirty years prior."
Beyond the Brand is spread across Halcyon Gallery’s two Mayfair sites, at 29 and 148 New Bond Street, London. The exhibition space at 29 New Bond Street celebrates Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans, accompanied by ephemera that illustrate the extraordinary impact that the artist’s best-known motif has had on culture. Accompanying the soup cans is a Campbell’s Soup Box, a vibrant three-dimensional canvas that was commissioned by Campbell’s in 1986 to commemorate the launch of a new product.
Meanwhile, an immersive room in 148 New Bond Street features the much-admired Andy Mouse portfolio by Keith Haring portraying Warhol as Mickey Mouse, swimming in dollar bills and dancing in a nightclub.
These works are a testament to the remarkable influence of Warhol on artists like Haring and Jean Michel-Basquiat - as well as the ever-changing face of the New York art scene. This immersive space takes inspiration from Haring’s ‘Pop Shop’ to celebrate the convergence of graffiti art and fine art, that took place for the first time in the 1980s, and for which Warhol was a crucial driving force.
Pissarro comments: "Andy Warhol’s revolutionary contributions to art history are often measured through his paintings, particularly their power, subject matter, technique and reception: huge canvases, immense personalities, gargantuan sums garnered at auction… What made his paintings so bold and new was, by contrast, the increasingly mechanistic techniques he used to create his compositions."
"As his paintings grew increasingly removed from the idea of individuality, he introduced new, cutting-edge elements to his prints. The relationship between the two worlds is a bit like an artistic Turing test: as the two arenas, painting and printmaking developed in tandem, they marched inexorably towards an almost, but not quite, asymptotic singularity. Never the twain would meet, but Warhol would not cease to blur the boundaries as much as he could."
"[This] exhibition provides a precious opportunity to look back at the history of Warhol’s printmaking practice and look afresh at several series that illuminate fundamental truths about the famously enigmatic artist’s worldview."