Anyd Warhol at the Ashmolean


Last weekend I found myself in Oxford and, while I was there I paid a visit to the Ashmolean (it would have been rude not to). The Ashmolean is currently running an exhibition of the art of Andy Warhol.

Until recently, I didn't feel particularly inspired by Pop Art as a movement generally and the art of Andy Warhol in particular. I admired the philosophy behind Pop Art but didn't feel the emotion of it.

However, a few months ago I came across a story about Andy Warhol that sparked my interest in him, as an artist and as a person. This was the story of Andy Warhol and 25 cats name(d) Sam which I came across completely by chance while googling idley on the Internet. I wrote a blog about this amazing story, and ever since then I've been on a quest to obtain the book he and his mother created about Sam and Sam, Sam and Sam etc. (I haven't been able to yet as it isn't very cheap.)

I appreciate anyone who is quirky. I love quirkiness. And this story showed me that Andy Warhol was quirky. I knew he was quirky but quirky with cats? In my mind, that is someone to admire. I love cats. Artists who love cats are like-minded souls.

Visiting this exhibition, which displays pieces from a private collection and contains an eccelectic mix of video, print, drawing and painting, made me realise that Andy Warhol was a true 'Renaissance' man. What I mean by that is that he was able to dip and delve in all sorts of areas and take advantage of moods and themes of the age. He was a man who loved to play (and he was quite shrewd in what he chose to play with too). He was an entrepeneur but also, and first and foremost, an artist. He was opportunistic and constantly alert (open, and willing) to new ventures. He could morph from artist to printmaker to video maker and film maker.

Art for him didn't just happen in the studio. It happened in undefined social spaces. He helped move art from the studio to the community. He was an observer of society and that is what I think I also have in common with him (besides cats). I would decscribe myself as an observer too. I wish I could have met him (perhaps in a lift somewhere).

The exhibition is well worth a visit. I found much to be inspired by (especially the weewee paintings) on display. The exhibition runs for another month so if anyone reading this finds themself in Oxford with a few hours to spare over the next few weeks, I recommend a trip to the Ashmolean.

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