In elementary school, my art teacher, Ms. Jurina, taught us about the Pennsylvanian artist, Andy Warhol, and we did a project where we had create our pop art using an object of our choice. And so for years, I had thought of him as the Campbell Soup guy, a one trick pony. But after visiting the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, I was surprised to find out that there was so much more to this a dynamic artist.
As I started on the 7th floor journey through the museum, we saw Andy Warhol repeatedly compared to Ai Weiwei, a contemporary artist notorious for his his art’s compelling social and political statements in the tense Chinese political climate. One floor was dedicated to just the use of floral imagery in both Warhol and Weiwei’s work. A particularly powerful piece is With Flowers, a mural made up of tiles of flower bouquets. The true beauty in this mural, interestingly enough, actually lies in the 6 by 8 inch white plaque on the far right of the wall explaining the story behind With Flowers. When the Chinese government seized Ai Weiwei’s passport due to his controversial work and social media activity, he artfully protested by arranging a different bouquet of flowers in the his bike’s basket outside his house every day. The painting in each of the 600 tiles is symbolic of the 600 days that Weiwei had his rights unjustly withheld. This story continues to be shared, as visitors at the Warhol love to post pictures by it.
Further up, I was able to see some of Warhol’s most iconic work- silkscreen prints of America’s modern symbols in the 20th century- Coca Cola bottles, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe. This was the beginning of the American Pop art movement and his work spoke to the rise of consumerism and mass production in popular culture.
My favorite floor was dedicated to Warhol’s knack for hoarding. The museum has enshrined some of the interesting, random things he chose to keep, from plates to water bills to bizarre knick knacks.
As you can probably tell, there’s a lot to be seen at the Warhol Museum, so make sure you block out a day to take the time to appreciate the experience.