Instantly recognisable, audacious, witty, clever and prescient – Andy Warhol was a consummate artist who understood consumerism and celebrity. A major show at Tate Modern gives a glimpse of his impressive creative output.

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Dynamic repetition!  Those printed Coca Cola bottles and cans of soup are instantly recognisable. It’s great to see them, along with other works featuring multiples of every day items on show at Tate Modern.

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This show takes the viewer on a chronological odyssey through the artist’s life.  It’s fascinating to see how he invented his own persona and brand. His family emigrated from a mountain village in Slovakia to begin a new life in the USA.   The young Andy Warhol clearly had a very individual way of viewing and recording the world.   I love the way he took hold of any media, old or new, and reinvented it, creating playful and clever impressions of the world around him.

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I hadn’t seen the pencil portraits he’d made of boyfriends before, which open the show.  We then move into more familiar territory, the paintings, the prints, the pop art.  And there’s a room full of floating pillows – Silver Clouds –  plus a gallery full of photos and loud music to represent the heady days of the Factory and a life of creative excess in the mid 1960s.

In 1968 he was shot at close range by Valerie Solanas, a disgruntled writer who accused Warhol of ‘stealing her ideas’.  It’s a miracle that he survived the attack but was in pain for the remaining 19 years of ‘extra time’ which he used for a frenzy of new work, including a return to painting.

His final major work,  The Last Supper, seems to predict his death and references the painting, by Leonardo da Vinci, which had been on the wall in his family’s kitchen. Sixty Last Suppers was exhibited in Milan before the gallbladder operation which led to heart-failure and his death on 22nd February 1987 at the age of 58.

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The show, Andy Warhol, is on at Tate Modern until 6th September 2020.

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