More than 5,000 queer snow bunnies and their admirers recently descended upon Aspen for Aspen Gay Ski Week, but those in the know headed to the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) to check out “Andy Warhol: Lifetimes,” a museum-wide takeover. The mountain town’s temperatures are below freezing, but renewed interest in Warhol’s queer-centric cultural impact is trending hot.
On display through March 27, 2022, “Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” isn’t just an encore exhibition of its original iteration at Tate Modern, London: it’s a reimagining.
Monica Majoli re-conceptualizes AAM’s presentation, considering the parallels between his life and work. “You wonder how he reconciled certain things like being a devout Catholic with his relationship to sex—voyeurism, his homosexuality,” says Majoli. “When I read about him, part of what was surprising to me was how vulnerable, insecure and endearing he was.”
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Majoli acknowledges that there’s a general “comfort level” with Warhol, who smartly straddled art and consumerism throughout his career. But as the 35th anniversary of his death approaches (February 22), it’s ever-apparent that Warhol’s queerness and sexual expression now imbues a different kind of historical context.
“During the 1970s, homosexuality was considered politically charged and under threat in American society,” says AAM’s assistant curator Simone Krug. “It only became legal as late as 2003 in the U.S. for two consenting adults of the same gender to have sex. So, Warhol was a dangerous figure because he was making and showing this explicit erotic work of men.”
Andy Warhol Across America
Warhol also explored the gay American West long before “Brokeback Mountain” put leather chaps on the map. A new exhibit at Southern Utah University, “Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians and Billy Schenck: Myth of the West” (through March 19), showcases Warhol’s last major project before his death in 1987. The time capsule can’t be viewed without juxtaposing its impact against celluloid cowboy president Ronald Regan and the beginning of the AIDS crisis.
“Even as he enshrines his subjects’ nobility, he can’t resist fluorescing them into campy icons,” observes culture writer Jeremy Lybarger. “It’s an approach that perhaps only an outsider — a gay artist from New York City — would attempt.”
If museum visits make you narcoleptic, New York City’s Bated Breath Theatre Company presents “Chasing Andy Warhol” this spring. The immersive theatrical walking tour takes over the streets of the East Village with live-action and multimedia vignettes behind windows of area businesses and inside secret locations, combining theater, dance, art, and film for a multisensory experience that “goes beyond the hype and into the deepest feelings of a profoundly complex person.” Performances are set to begin on March 25.
It’s the last chance to see “Marisol and Warhol Take New York” (through February 14) at The Andy Warhol Museum, located in the artist’s hometown of Pittsburgh. Curator Jessica Beck considers Warhol’s works alongside Marisol’s impact on the American Pop movement, seeking to “reclaim the importance of her practice; reframe the strength, originality, and daring nature of her work,” the museum’s website notes, also suggesting that she was “written out of the white male-dominated Pop narrative.”
Even five-star hotels are getting in on the action. From February 14 – April 22, Hotel Bel-Air will exhibit the James R. Hedges IV Collection — the largest collection of its sort in private hands in the world. Never-before-seen photographs represent Warhol’s last decade, including images of Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Richard Gere, and other glitterati of the day.
If acquiring a Warhol original is out of your budget, Medicom Toy just dropped another highly collectible [email protected] artist mash-up. The third in a series, the Andy Warhol × Jean-Michel Basquiat PVC toys sell for a cool $200.
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Across the pond, the UK’s Warhol-obsessed can binge on the BBC Two docuseries “Andy Warhol’s America.”