The Andy Warhol Museum

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    Replication and Revelation

    Author: Sarah Reiff Conell

    PhD Student in History of Art and Architecture

    This Valentine’s Day, members of the History of Art and Architecture Department spent some quality time with Warhol. Together with Chief Curator José Carlos Díaz, we explored the exhibition Andy Warhol: Revelation at the Andy Warhol Museum. This exhibition brought together the rich archival holdings of the museum alongside Warhol’s artworks, highlighting the influence of Catholicism on the artist’s image making. The show also includes local objects from Pittsburgh, like panels from the iconostasis (icon screen) of Warhol’s church, St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, located in Ruska Dolina (now known as the Four Mile Run neighborhood of Greenfield).

    Through engagement with the exhibition and in dialogue with the curator, I gained a new appreciation for Warhol’s work and was fascinated by the way that the artist engaged in the process of copying through the lens of religious image making. As mentioned in the exhibition catalog, “Warhol’s devotion was not an act but a fundamental part of his life.” Images take on meaning in the eyes of their beholders, and Warhol knowingly treads the line between objects of genuine devotion and kitsch that thwart such distinctions as he merges high and low, sacred and profane in his copies. Seemingly mundane objects can be incredibly powerful, as they are more accessible and are able to be activated by the attentiveness of viewer. Religious objects have persistently traversed the boundary between cheap copies and treasured surrogates.

    I came to this conversation from my area of expertise on miracle working images in the sixteenth century Europe. Early modern copies were understood to connect mortals with the heavenly. In the twenty-first century, replicated images can seem to lose their value, in part because of the scale of copying that can be accomplished with relative ease. Still today, the role of the copied image in Catholicism resists this characterization, as images fulfill roles that supersede artistic innovation in the everyday lives of people and their devotional practices. 

    Valuable repetition can be found in a variety of spiritual objects and devotional practices. For example, liturgical calendars mark time through a rotation of days dedicated to honoring particular saints. Repetitive actions can also be supported by specialized objects. Praying the Rosary is a way to commit to memory important scriptural events, and each iteration of the prayer cycle is primed for reflection. The “Hail Mary” prayer is a condensed version of prayerful repetition, and each reflective utterance potentially reveals new points of attention as well as a deepening connection with a central saint of the Catholic faith. 

    Warhol is well known for his pop icons, which he created in multiples. The blue and gold representations of Jacqueline Kennedy mourning the assassination of her husband are reminiscent of portrayals of the Virgin Mary responding to Her Son’s crucifixion. Both offer the opportunity for viewers to connect through the experience of traumatic loss, an empathetic response that is held in tension with the intentional flatness of the picture plane. These women are simultaneously near and distant, known and unknowable. Such images of the Virgin Mary have been copied for centuries. Iconic portraits of the Madonna have garnered legitimacy through a chain of reproduction that spans back to the earliest depiction of Her, which some believe was painted by Saint Luke. The practice of copying paintings that were produced hundreds of years apart, connects each iteration of that image to a powerful original. This topic is too large for a single blog post, but it is important to reconsider images as meaningful for the ways that they link humans to each other and to the divine.  

    The works selected for the Revelation exhibition offer examples of reference and wit that I am excited to share. Inspired by this show and eager to continue our conversation, I wrote a short reflection on a handful of objects that stirred connections with my own research area. Click here if you want to read more about the images above. 

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  • Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

     

    The Furtive Faith of Andy Warhol

    Author: Paula Kane

    John and Lucine O’Brien Marous Chair of Catholic Studies, Department of Religious Studies

    In a year that honored Fred Rogers as an exemplar of Pittsburgh and progressive Presbyterianism, the current show at the Warhol Museum embraced a more complex native son and his oblique connection to Catholic traditions.

    For the last several years I have worked with the Andy Warhol Museum as an advisor to its current exhibition, Andy Warhol: Revelation. The show is the first to highlight the artist’s religious background and influences. It closes in Pittsburgh on February 16 and will travel to the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and then to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The five rooms of the exhibit are preceded by Sunset, an unusual Warhol film from 1967 as part of a commissioned project for the Vatican pavilion at the 1968 world’s fair in San Antonio. Although the project was never realized, Warhol’s 33-minute shot of a California sunset hints at his anxieties about death and disasters–themes that consumed him in the 1960s–, as well as the spiritual sublime. Sunsets may be passages into darkness, or gateways to the dawn. The show then opens with “Ruska Dolina: Church & Community,” depicting Warhol’s local religious influences. “Glory & Graces” connects the tradition of sacred icons of his Pittsburgh parish to his well-known secular icons, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. “The Catholic Body and The Renaissance Spirit: Inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci” consider the role of the body in Warhol’s art and his engagement with sacred Renaissance painting. The final segment, “Sacred & Secular: Reproductions and the Imitations of Christ,” matches artworks drawn from elite sources, such as Raphael Madonnas and da Vinci’s Last Supper, with mass-marketed items like Jesus night lights. 

    In addition to Warhol’s own works, a variety of items enhance the exhibition: drawings of angels by the artist’s mother, who lived with him in New York; Catholic kitsch garnered from city flea markets; photographs of Warhol with friends and the pope; newspaper ads and clippings that Warhol used in his silkscreens; line drawings of body parts. Since this exhibition is the first to highlight Warhol’s Byzantine Catholic roots, it offered an ideal opportunity to consider religion in the life of a modern artist. A conversational approach to this topic seemed more fruitful than a lecture, so I invited art historian Erika Doss from Notre Dame to join me at the museum a few weeks ago for the evening event, which we accompanied with projected images.

    What does revelation mean for a modern artist? For Christians, the word has its roots in the cryptic final book of the Christian Bible, where the end-time is vividly depicted. It speaks of a world undergoing a series of crises before being transformed by the victorious redemptive work of God. For Andy, did a sense of revelation play a part in his life and his art? What does he reveal to us, his viewers? Our conversation at the Warhol hoped to reveal at least two things: first, that in the art world, the religious identity of Warhol was more challenging than his gay identity. As performance artist and poet John Giorno recalled, it was far worse to be religious than gay. It was hard for modernists to accept that religion still mattered. Our second revelation, therefore: Warhol was both religious AND modern.

    Warhol was surrounded at The Factory, his studio from 1962 to 1984, by a cohort of “lost boys,” mostly lapsed ethnic Catholics from working-class families who were constant reminders of that shared religious heritage. Andy was religious, though in an idiosyncratic fashion. In Pittsburgh, his family had moved to Dawson Street in Oakland to live near their church. In Manhattan, Julia Warhol continued to attend a Byzantine rite church, while her son went to Mass at least weekly at various Catholic parishes, rarely taking the sacrament of communion. Andy often stayed at services only for ten minutes or so. We can only speculate about whether he feared the Church’s condemnations of homosexuality, or lacked a spiritual connection with the sacrament, or just liked to watch the congregations without being observed himself. He customarily carried a rosary and a missal with him, and his townhouse was full of devotional objects. He was proud of meeting Pope John Paul II in 1980.

    Although not “a religious artist,” Warhol was both religious AND modern.  He made hundreds of prints of religious subjects, but especially in the two years before his death, when he  repeatedly focused on da Vinci’s Last Supper, using a German engraving of the painting. Here, Warhol’s production of copies of copies of copies using modern photo or print technology and overlaying it with camouflage or pink paint recalls the role of sacred images and relics in Catholic culture: there, the power of the object is not diminished by copying, in contrast to Walter Benjamin’s famous claim that the aura of the original could not be replicated. In Catholic belief, the copied item (a vial of holy water from faraway Lourdes, for example, or a blessed holy card) still carries its sacrality, and the portability of holiness is an important aspect of devotional culture.

    The exhibition segments on the Last Supper and the Catholic body remind us of the important role of devotions in Catholic practice and of the incarnational core of Christian faith: material objects that can be touched, smelled, tasted, and admired visually are reminders of the presence of God, who took on human form. Andy grew up during the heyday of devotional Catholicism in the U.S.,  and appreciated its “thingness,” often for purposes of parody and satire, which led him suggest tantalizing connections between the Catholic subjects of the great Renaissance artists and the cheap mass-marketed religious items of the present.

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    The bulk of my research over the past year for Andy Warhol: Revelation occurred in The Warhol’s Archives Study Center, which is the epicenter of primary source scholarship on Warhol. Almost all of my questions could be answered by the trove of archival objects or scholarly texts housed within their collection.

     

    Realizing Andy Warhol: Revelation

    Author: Kenneth Wahrenberger, Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellow at The Andy Warhol Museum – Summer 2019

    After innumerable hours of planning, writing, and curating, Andy Warhol: Revelation will open October 20, 2019 at The Andy Warhol Museum. The show explores the Byzantine and Roman Catholic influences on Warhol’s artistic production from his earliest known works all the way to his Last Supper series completed at the end of his life. 

    In May of 2018, I had my first meeting with José Carlos Diaz, the chief curator of The Warhol and organizer of Andy Warhol: Revelation. At that time, José was working on the exhibition with Micol Forti, the director of the Contemporary Art Collection at the Vatican Museums. The exhibition was planned to open in conjunction with the museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary in October 2019. In addition to its Pittsburgh premier, the show and will travel to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. 

    We worked in earnest throughout the late summer and fall of 2018, finding every possible text related to the artist’s clandestine religious practices and Byzantine Catholic upbringing. After developing a solid research base, we began sorting the exhibition checklist into sections and drafting preliminary floorplans (and looking back, they are astonishingly different than what they are today!).

    In January of this year, José and I began working on the Revelation exhibition catalogue, which ended up being a source of joy (and frustration) until the end of my Fine Foundation Fellowship in late August when the book went to print. The catalogue consists of two scholarly essays, one from Jose and one from Miranda Lash, curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum, a forward from The Warhol director Patrick Moore, section texts describing each part of the show, a selection of high quality plates of works in the show, and a comprehensive exhibition checklist. Suffice it to say, the 96-page catalogue required a remarkable amount of editing, fact checking, and drafting, which occupied my time for the last six months. 

    I was fortunate to work with a marvelous copy editor named Tom Fredrickson and a talented graphic design team from Glue + Paper Workshop. Of course, they were not Warhol scholars and could not help fact check many aspects of the text. I can remember spending weeks culling the exhibition checklist and working with the archival and collections teams to provide names, dates, mediums, dimensions, etc. to certain items in the show. One of the most extraordinary parts of Revelation is that it will exhibit rare and never-before-seen objects like icon panels from Warhol’s childhood church and the original source material for his Last Supper silkscreen series; however, these objects also present new issues of titling, dating, and artistic attribution, which are important to determine for a publication. While this was an complicated process for me, the team at The Warhol was extremely helpful and turned every challenge into a fruitful, educational experience.  

    At the end of the Fine Foundation Fellowship and my previous internship engagement at the Warhol, I have the experience of managing a book project from start to finish, along with heavy involvement in researching and curating a major exhibition with a brilliant curator. Although I am anxious for the public response after the show opens, I think people will be amazed or at the very least intrigued by this mysterious side of Andy Warhol. 

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  • In this image, I am flipping through the only Jewish book in Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules (TC). To my right is TC (-1.4); the box where I uncovered this 67-year-old leather-bound text.

     

    Revelations in the Time Capsules

    Museum Studies Intern at the Andy Warhol Museum – Fall 2018

    This past semester, I had the opportunity to be a curatorial intern for José Carlos Díaz, the chief curator of the Andy Warhol Museum. Given my academic concentration on the intersection of art and religion, my job was to aid José in his preparation of Andy Warhol: Revelation (October 2019), an exhibition focusing on the Pop artist’s religious side. Contrary to many popular perceptions of Andy Warhol, he held very traditional Catholic beliefs, and his faith manifested itself throughout his art. My research for the exhibition led me through numerous scholarly texts and Warhol’s biographic accounts, but the most compelling source was undoubtedly the Time Capsules

    Starting in 1974 and ending at the artist’s death in 1987, Warhol compiled 610 Time Capsules by placing a mélange of items (from correspondence to food) into cardboard boxes and saving them in storage to be opened on a future date. Time Capsules is considered to be the world’s most expansive readymade artwork and all of its boxes have all ready been opened, stabilized, and cataloged in the Andy Warhol Museum’s Archives Study Center. I focused on Andy’s religious ephemera, evidence of his church attendance, and correspondence with his nephew Pauly Warhola – who received his uncle’s financial support for seminary. 

    Despite numerous dead ends and red herrings, I uncovered some important information that may be featured in the exhibition. Based on Andy’s daily diary entries, he said that he “went to church” sixty-one times over the roughly five hundred recorded weeks from November 1976 to February 1987. However, I found Mass programs in the Time Capsules from dates when Warhol omitted church attendance in his diary, which suggests that he was going to church more than he was willing to admit. By closely reading correspondence sent from Pauly Warhola to his grandmother Julia and uncle Andy, I also discovered key instances where Andy provided funds to support his nephew’s studies for the priesthood. 

    Andy was a notorious collector, especially of religious objects. Throughout the archives, one can examine Christian objects from kitschy collectibles to the Warhola family bible. There is even a Qur’an that Warhol picked up during his travels. Yet throughout Warhol’s entire collection, there were no traces of Judaica until I uncovered a Hebrew Bible in pictures (a Jewish book containing biblical stories with corresponding images) buried amidst the miscellany of Time Capsule (-1.4). This picture Bible, published in 1951 in Tel Aviv, Israel, was originally cataloged with the notation that it was a Christian object, but the miniature book does not include the New Testament. 

    After spending time in the Archives Study Center, I came to understand the intimate perspective that the material record can shed on the life of Andy Warhol. Despite the museum establishment over twenty-four years ago, there is still new information waiting to be uncovered about the secret side of the “Pope of Pop.”

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    Andy Warhol, Ladies and Gentlemen (Marsha P. Johnson), 1975, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

     

    Important Identities: Recognizing and Remembering the Faces of Ladies and Gentlemen

    Author, Rebecca Moser, Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellow at the Andy Warhol Museum – Summer 2018

    As the most comprehensive single-artist museum and archive in the world and the largest in North America, The Andy Warhol Museum certainly doesn’t lack research material. During my Fine Foundation Fellowship at the museum under the supervision of Milton Fine Curator of Art, Jessica Beck, I spent the summer experiencing the daily operations of the museum and learning about the curatorial process. My favorite thing about working at the Warhol was seeing the lengths that the dedicated staff go to exhibiting Warhol’s artworks in new contexts in order to connect with diverse communities.  The opportunity to participate in these efforts was one of the most rewarding experiences of my internship.

    This summer I assisted in the curatorial staff’s research on Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen series (1975) as they prepared for a temporary exhibition opening this fall. Ladies and Gentlemen is portrait series featuring predominantly black and Latinx drag queens and transgender women from New York. The series was commissioned by Luciano Anselmino, an Italian art dealer, and is arguably Warhol’s largest undertaking. The series, including Warhol’s preliminary work, is comprised of 268 paintings, 65 drawings, a print portfolio containing 10 collages, and over 500 Polaroids of 14 models. Select prints, paintings, drawings, and Polaroids from Ladies and Gentlemen will be exhibited for the first time as a comprehensive group at the Andy Warhol Museum in conjunction with Devan Shimoyama’s first solo museum exhibition, Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby (October 13, 2018–March 17, 2019).

    In an effort to recuperate the stories of figures who have historically been marginalized and overlooked, even by Warhol himself, we focused on the models’ biographies. During Warhol’s lifetime, the models for the series were left anonymous at exhibitions. Due to this persistent disregard for the individuality of the models, they were grouped together and commodified as anonymous faces of an oppressed subculture. After Warhol’s death, when works from the series were displayed, the models were occasionally named, but still little was known about their lives. Thanks to efforts by the researchers behind the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne: Volume 4, published in 2014, extensive information about the models and the series was uncovered and compiled. We now know they did not lead easy lives and most of them lived on the streets fighting homophobia and transphobia in society, even in gay activist circles.

    By revealing their names and their stories, the images of Ladies and Gentleman become more personal, allowing viewers to connect with the artworks in new ways; especially when the series is put into conversation with Shimoyama’s portraits of black boys and men in queer spaces. Over forty years after the completion of this series, these drag queens and transgender women of the past will be recognized as early advocates in the fight for racial and queer justice and equality that continues today.

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  • Proposed flyer for the LGBTQ Youth Prom

     

    LGBTQ Legacy at The Andy Warhol Museum

    Museum Studies Intern at The Andy Warhol Museum - Spring 2018

    Campbell’s Soup. Crazy Hair. Artistic Icon. These were the things I knew about Andy Warhol.

    However, before my Museum Studies internship at The Andy Warhol Museum, I didn’t know much about his role in gay culture. However, after working in the Education department with Shannon Thompson, I have a better understanding the importance and legacy of Warhol and his art.

    For my internship, I was tasked with helping the Prom Planning committee held every third Thursday. During these meetings, LGBTQ+ teens from all over Western Pennsylvania came to plan their alternative prom at their respective schools. At the first meeting that I was a part of, I kept seeing all different kinds of teens coming through the doors: individuals of all colors, sizes, labels, and orientations. I was in charge of facilitating the flyer subcommittee. In this subcommittee, I was able to have more intimate conversations with the teens and get to know them. After speaking with a student about what this Prom means to them, they said: “Prom is essential to any high school kid’s experience. For us, we can’t necessarily be ourselves at every school’s prom. This prom allows us to be ourselves and have the most fun we can.”

    There is no single reason why Andy Warhol is remains a cultural icon; there are many. For teens and adults living an LGBTQ+ life, he can resonate with many. During his lifetime, Warhol was a pioneer for gay rights in that he was an openly gay artist. He paved the way for future artists to do the same, and allowed LGBTQ+ people an outlet in the popular culture.

    Today, at The Andy Warhol Museum, they are using these messages and meanings around Warhol’s life to help LGBTQ+ teens in the Pittsburgh Area. With programs like the LGBTQ+ Prom, teens from across the Pittsburgh Area can look to this museum as a safe space to be themselves. I know Warhol would be proud if he saw what his legacy means to all these teens and to others across the globe.

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    José Díaz talking about the jar series Faghat Eshgh-Only Love, 2007

     

    On Farhad Moshiri’s Solo Exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum

    Author: Golnar Touski

    Graduate student. History of Art and Architecture

    Farhad Moshiri: Go West, an exhibition curated by Jose Carlos Diaz, The Andy Warhol Museum’s chief curator, is currently on view at The Andy Warhol Museum. This is the Iranian artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States, surveying two decades of Moshiri’s career.

    Moshiri rose to fame with his embellished, jeweled paintings adorned with calligraphic inscriptions of Iranian pop poetry. Over two decades, his works referenced the Iranian pop culture, calligraphy and decorative arts in dialogue with the prevalent American culture of entertainment and consumerism, ubiquitous in Iran of 1980s and 1990s. Often profiled as a Pop artist, his art defies categories of art commonly associated with the Middle East. He uses icons of the Iranian and ancient Persian art, but unlike his Iranian modern predecessors of the 1960 and 70s, he is not much interested in abstraction. Rather he employs visual markers of Middle Eastern art to comment on consuming an imagined Persia.

    In the context of The Andy Warhol Museum, Farhad Moshiri’s works find a situated-ness that otherwise would not be as visible to the Iranian and non-Iranian audiences alike. Seen in this context Moshiri initiates a dialogue with the Western imported pop culture, Western movies, Disney cartoons and French postcards on the one hand; and iterations of the Iranian consumerism on the other. Seen next to Warhol’s interest in and referencing of the American pop culture, Moshiri’s labor-intensive, elaborate remaking of popular everyday objects juxtapose infinite reproducibility with an obsessive hand-making of images; a way of making reproducible objects of one’s own by dense, rich textural adornment and adoration.  

    Moshiri’s art could be thought of as a playful manipulation of mechanisms of desire, labor and language. By flattening ancient objects in his famous jar series (Faghat Eshgh-Only Love, 2007) he generates a metonymy of the Ancient Persia, an imagined identity referring to everyday lives of Iranians who were exposed to the globalized capitalism especially during the years after the 1979 revolution and who found it necessary to define Iranian-ness in the face of an increasing political isolation of the country.

    Such artistic strategy also redefines objects linguistically, linking the Persian calligraphy, a form of “sublime” artistic production to consumerism. Moshiri notices how calligraphy, an art of Persian royal courts and a revered form of art practice became a commodity of the world of art and a marker of identity.

    But perhaps the most striking about his recent works, such as the Frosting Stories series, is their uniquely sensory quality. Viewing Moshiri’s art closely is a completely different experience. The glittery, ornate details strike a chord with the viewer's sense of nostalgia and desire; and it would be fair to say that the Iranian and American audiences both experience such an affective, visceral response. The rich textures and subtle details recreate the Persian 17th century architectural elements, Persian manuscript illumination and calligraphy, but in the shape of cake frosting and cheap jewelry; something thet one wants to touch, and taste. Something that is commodifiable Yet the commodities Moshiri offers us always entail an uncomfortable encounter that is either sexually charged or implicitly violent.

    Moshiri’s use of domestic labor is also worth noting. He employs local craftswomen whose specialty is making wedding dresses to create garish, glittery beaded surfaces and embroidered paintings; a form of low-brow, domestic art which was never taken seriously vis-à-vis sublimity of the Iranian Modern art movement of mid-1960s and 1970s. While the imagery is playful and cartoonish, the rich texture is indicative of hours and hours of labor, hence implying a subtle sense of discomfort in the contradictory co-existence of labor and consumerism.

    Moshiri was born in 1963 in the early years of the Iranian modern art movement; he is well aware of the legacy of the Iranian modern art as a form of 'committed art' which at the same time drew heavily on the EuroAmerican tradition of modernism. It so seems that Moshiri’s glittery, elaborate surfaces respond to a culmination of events before and after the Iranian revolution of 1979, when revolutionary aspirations of the modern art were replaced by a fervor to accumulate objects and consumption of identity.

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    Golnar Yarmohammad Touski presented her response to a tour of the Fahrad Moshiri: Go West exhibition by Jose Carlos Diaz on October 20 at The Andy Warhol Museum. The above blog post records her comments and reflections on this occasion.

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    The Andy Warhol Museum: The Legacy of an Icon

    Author: Leslie Rose

    Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellowship at The Andy Warhol Museum - Summer 2017

    Recently, I have heard one of the truest statements that I will probably ever come to understand: “Once you’ve got The Warhol bug, you’ve got it for life.” This “bug” is much more than just an admiration for the iconic artist. It’s appreciation for all that he and his legacy, The Andy Warhol Museum, represents.

    Until my fellowship with The Warhol, I didn’t fully comprehend the importance of such an institution. I respected and enjoyed Warhol’s work as much as any other artist, but this museum is far more than a single artist museum. As the University of Pittsburgh’s Fine Foundation Fellow for the summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Warhol’s chief curator, Jose Diaz, and Milton Fine curator, Jessica Beck. My experiences in this internship opened my eyes to the necessity of The Andy Warhol Museum and institutions like it. In almost every possible way, from its programs and publications to its exhibitions and staff, The Warhol provides an inclusive environment and enriching content that generates a dialogue amongst the people of the Pittsburgh community and thousands of visitors from around the world. The museum brings together people from all walks of life, something that I believe people need in today’s divisive social and political atmosphere. It is not just me taking notice.

    One way The Andy Warhol Museum promotes inclusivity is through their staff. The Warhol received recognition by Ithaka S+R as one of eight institutions in the country striving to make the museum world more open to marginalized groups. I participated in Ithaka S+R’s research interviews and when learning of the other museum in that list, Brooklyn Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Detroit Institute of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Spelman College Museum (Atlanta), and the Studio Museum in Harlem, I was elated that the Warhol ranked among them. It thrilled me that I was a part of an institution that made diversity a priority. As faces and voices of the institution, a diverse staff means numerous perspectives are being explored and welcomed.

    Through my fellowship, I was able to assist the curatorial team on their upcoming exhibitions. With each project, I learned more of what it truly means to carry on Warhol’s legacy. This legacy means more than finding artists who similarly practiced art, but it is Warhol’s mindset—critiquing and questioning today’s culture head on. The 2017 Spring show, Firelei Baez: Bloodlines featured the works of contemporary Dominican artist Firelei Baez, who’s work tackled past and present understandings of race, power and beauty. In the fall of this year, The Warhol will open Farhad Moshiri: Go West, which will showcase the works of Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri. Throughout my internship, my primary focus was Go West and I helped to create an exhibition catalogue and didactic wall labels. Moshiri’s work explores Iranian traditions, the appeal and influence of Western culture, and how people have come to define their own cultural identities. In the wake of recent, caustic, political rhetoric, aimed to make people’s differences seem like dangers, the museum finds that Moshiri’s work highlights the commonalities between the East and West. Addressing complex current issues of identity, race, power, The Warhol aims to bridge gaps, acknowledge, and celebrate people’s differences through exhibitions and events such as these.

    My time at The Andy Warhol Museum has taught me more than I can imagine— Andy Warhol’s life and work, working with contemporary artists, planning an exhibition, and how a museum of this size operates on a day to day basis. It was the museum’s mission, continuing Warhol’s legacy and making it accessible to all people, that has made the greatest impact on me and is something that I will carry with me.

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  • The Andy Warhol Museum, front facade, 1994, photo by Paul Rocheleau

     

    The Many Hats at The Warhol

    Museum Studies Intern at The Andy Warhol Museum - Spring 2017

    This semester I was the communications intern at The Andy Warhol Museum. I put my skills to the test in tasks that involved things such as editing, research, and marketing. The Warhol gave me the chance to work on a wide variety of projects, ranging from smaller tasks to multi-stage projects.

    One of these multi-stage projects I helped a lot with was a survey revamp. The museum wanted to update their exit surveys to try to get more responses. There is currently one iPad setup for surveys near the information desk. My first task was to try to get the survey working on a second iPad. After careful research and testing, it was determined that the current iPad would not be able to run the survey software because of the age of the hardware. Since the current equipment was not up to the task, my second objective was to create a budget for the new equipment, researching tablets and software that would be the best fit for an unassisted exit survey. While researching, I contacted the Carnegie Museum of Art employee who is dealing with the surveys at their museum to compare notes.

    Other things I helped with in the communications department included social media and website analytics, using sites such as iQ Media and Sprout Social. I researched press to reach out to for upcoming exhibitions such as Farshad Moshiri: Go West, and thought of strategies of how to market the exhibitions to those specific members of the press. Also, I edited and contributed ideas to a new marketing style guide. On top of all my work for the communication department, I was able to use my skill set to assist the publication department.

    The publication department had me assisting with an upcoming book The Warhol is writing. For this project I did copy editing for multiple parts of the book, and worked on some of the bibliography. On top of that, I also edited book related materials using inDesign.

    It was really interesting to see how different departments work and interact with each other within the museum, and across other Carnegie Museums. A lot of the departments work with each other frequently, and the communication between the departments was strong.

    I really enjoyed my time at the Warhol, my coworkers were passionate about art and the museum’s mission, and they created a great working environment.

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    From Duchamp to Diamond Dust: My Research at the Warhol

    Museum Studies Intern at The Andy Warhol Museum - Spring 2016

    I’m currently a Curatorial Intern at the Andy Warhol Museum. My official job description entails assisting the Associate Curator, Ms. Jessica Beck, with two upcoming exhibitions: Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei, from June through August of 2016, and Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body, scheduled for later in the fall of 2016. ‘Assisting’ is quite a broad term, but as a whole, most of my work encompasses utilizing the library here as well as scholarly databases for research, namely on the biographies of artists involved in the exhibitions as well as their individual works of art and exhibition histories – needless to say, I’ve done a number of searches on Warhol.

    Ultimately, my research is compiled into concrete documents for either the public or the curatorial department – I’ve written up bibliographies for exhibition research, wall texts, and the like. My current big project is working on a blog post - on Warhol’s ties to China and Chinese contemporary art - that will hopefully be published on the Warhol’s blog in tandem with the upcoming exhibition.

    My experience as a whole has been absolutely inspiring so far. I love research, so getting to learn about Andy Warhol’s fascinating life has been a treat in itself, but beyond just that, the experience I’m getting here at the museum has only reaffirmed my love for both art history and museum studies. From running around the offices to waiting in line at the café to overseeing actual exhibitions being put together, my internship at the Warhol has given me a taste of what working in a museum environment (and an office!) is like, with all of its varied departments (that come together in the most excellent ways) and talented staff. I know that the skills I’ve learned – compiling exhibition materials, working with a varied staff, and powerwalking through the Cultural District to catch the bus on time – are all skills that I will utilize many more times in the future, and I’m grateful that I got the chance to learn so much here as well.

    Working at the Warhol has been a humbling, inspiring, and incredibly rewarding experience. I haven’t got much time left here, but I know that there will be new projects for me to work on, and new things for me to learn about Warhol, his work, and his legacy even in this brief span left until the end of the term. If there’s anything that this internship isn’t, it’s unexciting!

    Categories: 
    • Academic Interns
    • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh