Warhol’s “American Icons” Exhibit Opens at GRAM

Andy Warhol, Marilyn (Marilyn Monroe), 1967, screenprint on paper, 36 x 36 inches.
Andy Warhol, Marilyn (Marilyn Monroe), 1967, screenprint on paper, 36 x 36 inches.

Iconic figures Marilyn Monroe, Sitting Bull, Muhammad Ali, Liz Taylor and Grand Rapids’ own Gerald R. Ford are all part of “American Icons,” an exhibition of works by Andy Warhol that will be on display at the GRAM for the next three and a half months.

“American Icons” opens to the public on Oct. 28 and runs through Feb. 11. The exhibition showcases Warhol’s vision and celebration of America by bringing together paintings, prints, photographs and films that create a “handbook of American cultural icons.”

The exhibition also includes Warhol’s well-known Campbell’s soup can screenprints and an important early painting on loan from the Whitney Museum of American art, Green Coca-Cola Bottles (1962), among other symbols of America.

Rounding out the exhibition are photographs and early films, from a period when Warhol was experimenting with the mediums. “Empire,” an eight-hour long “portrait” of the famed Empire State Building as filmed from a static position in an adjacent building, will be on view, along with several of the artist’s Screen Tests.

The Screen Tests are three-minute filmed portraits of Warhol Factory regulars and visitors, in which the subjects stared back at or enjoyed the attention of the stationary camera, constructing their own personas before our eyes.

“It’s exciting for GRAM to be organizing an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work around a theme that occupied the artist for his entire career: what products and symbols define and represent the US? Which Americans are the most iconic?” said Ron Platt, GRAM’s chief curator.

“Thirty years after his death, Warhol is still influential and seems ahead of his time. I would argue that Warhol himself is as much an American icon as any of those represented in the exhibition.”

American Icons draws on artworks from GRAM’s collection, as well as works from private collections and other public art institutions throughout the country, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Andy Warhol Museum and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

GRAM also welcomes “Christian Marclay: Video Quartet,” also opening on Oct. 28 and running through Jan. 14.

“Christian Marclay: Video Quartet” is a 17-minute film installation on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition consists of four synchronized video projections that form one contiguous image-and-sound work.

The installation is comprised of more than 700 individual fragments of film and sound from popular movies which feature people playing musical instruments or singing, as well as other soundtrack elements such as shouts, screams, crashes, and moments of cinematic silence.

The clips included in “Video Quartet” are primarily taken from Hollywood feature films dating from the 1920s to the early twenty-first century. Marclay meticulously edited the clips on a home computer into a new unified composition in which the performers seem to improvise together free of their original context, creating moments of synchrony or seeming to spontaneously respond to each other as if performing live.

“Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay has sampled, improvised and remixed sound, video and performance into multi-media works that defy categorization,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, GRAM’s director and CEO. “Video Quartet”  is an immersive installation experience that’s sure to captivate film and music fans alike.”

GRAM members and the public can enjoy several events and programming related to both exhibitions, including the Member Exhibition Party, Warhol Factory Party, drop-in tours and lectures.

Visit GRAM or call 616.831.1000 for more information.

*Photo courtesy of GRAM, Andy Warhol, Marilyn (Marilyn Monroe), 1967, screenprint on paper, 36 x 36 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, a tribute gift, in honor of Mary Nelson’s passionate dedication to Education and the Arts for young people, by her husband James Pingree Nelson, 2015.12 © 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Marilyn Monroe™; Rights of Publicity and Persona Rights: The Estate of Marilyn Monroe LLC. marilynmonroe.com

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