A wee bit ironic we thought. Both on the wall and by instruction from the gallery attendant it was “no photography” in the Warhol exhibition at the Ashmolean yesterday. In all likelihood probably a stricture by the Hall Collection (whose works they were) or the Warhol Foundation (or both) rather than the venue but amusing given the ubiquity of much of the material inside. Although to be fair there were quite a few works (especially the later ones) that haven’t been seen or reproduced as often as all that. Anyway I fell (over tea and cake, very nice, in the cafe) to reminiscence. Though I’ve seen plenty of Warhol allover the place over the years the last time I paid good money to go into an actual Andy Warhol solo show was early in 1971. I paid my 30p (6 shillings) and absorbed a strong selection of the Portraits, Disasters, Flowers, Soup Cans and Brillo Pads as the great man had restricted the exhibition to these five subjects. Of course yesterday I had to part with a tenner to see this broader selection…though the first thing to catch my eye was a Brillo Pad box again. This sparked off a discussion around authenticity given the hullabaloo over these a few years back!
But my main recollection was of the performance piece (and accompanying documentation) that I made in the spring of 1971 (with assistance from two of my friends and fellow students).
It focussed on two aspects of Andy that are central to the ‘idea’ of the Warhol brand, cheap reproducibility and the casual, laid back approach to authenticity and originality. Using card cut outs I printed onto different coloured sheets of cheap sugar paper and pinned them around the walls of the gallery space accompanied by a sound piece made by mixing various reverbed sounds and underlaid by my friend Allan reading a Times article in a dull monotone.
I made over 70 or so before we all got bored and went off for a drink.