Andy Warhol The Joseph Beuys Portraits
Revisiting the earliest meetings of Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, which took place in 1979, this exhibition brings together a selection of Warhol’s celebrated portraits of Beuys, many of which are shown in the UK for the first time.
The Beuys portraits are held internationally in the collections of major institutions – including the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen; MoMA, New York and Tate, London – and this is the first time the works have been presented with a solo focus since they were first exhibited in the 1980s.
The two giants of art history first encountered one another in person at an exhibition opening in Düsseldorf, Germany. Described by the American writer David Galloway as having ‘all the ceremonial aura of two rival popes meeting in Avignon,’ the moment marked a key point of contact between the leading representatives of European and American art. The pair met on several further occasions that year. On 30 October 1979, during the installation of Beuys’s landmark retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the German artist was taken to Warhol’s studio to have his portrait taken, arriving at the same time that Georgia O’Keeffe was being photographed. Warhol used his Polaroid Big Shot camera to capture the now-iconic image of Beuys dressed in his signature felt hat and fishing vest, which went on to serve as the source image for a series of screenprinted portraits made between 1980 and 1986.
Repeating Beuys’s arresting gaze on different scales and in different mediums – including diamond dust, silkscreen ink and acrylic paint – these portraits include examples of the artist’s Reversal Series, in which he reproduced key images from his across his career in reversed tones. These include his iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe, the Mona Lisa and Mao, these versions of the Beuys portrait demonstrate the particular value that Warhol placed on his representation of the other artist within his oeuvre.
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