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Ten Punching Bags:

A Minister's Opinion


Life is a struggle for most of us.  A struggle to survive.  A struggle to succeed.  According to the adage, only the fittest will survive.  Andy Warhol and his friend Jean-Michel Basquiat understood this when they produced the collaborative piece Ten Punching Bags.  Their efforts have touched the Reverend Dr. Harold T. Lewis, Rector of Cavalry Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.  For him, the struggle goes far beyond earthly matters. 

“This provocative, disturbing and challenging work is a study in juxtapositions, paradoxes, contradictions.  But that is exactly what Christianity, a religion that claims that God took on human form, died and was raised from the dead, claims to be. I think Warhol chose punching bags to portray Jesus as taking the blows (read ‘bearing the sins’) of humankind.  That there are ten of them suggests both the Ten Commandments and the ten lepers (outcasts) whom Jesus cleansed (Mark 10:41). Onto Warhol’s serene images of a DaVinci-esque Christ, Basquiat superimposes his own images, both religious (a crown, a Root of Jesse. Trinitarian symbols) and secular (lead, asbestos, a gallows, a dilapidated football stadium).  Jesus the Judge is himself judged by the squalor of urban poverty.

 Watching from the Wings: Warhol and Dance

Andy Warhol was a great fan and supporter of all things dance, so it would seem only natural that this museum should present an exhibition entitled Watching from the Wings: Warhol and Dance.  What might seem a little less natural (i.e., less traditional) are the perspectives of dance and dancers which the series offers the public. 

The exhibition features dance images (drawings, illustrations, portraits) by Warhol and pictures by famed 30’s and 40’s dance photographer George Platt Lynes.  The placement of a dance floor within the show adds a dynamic element to the exhibition. 

Museum visitors will be able to view dancers in rehearsal, allowing them a  behind-the-scenes perspective that a staged performance would not.  This allows the audience to take a voyeuristic part in the creative progress of the work.

Opening on February 28 (7:00-9:00 p.m.) with a performance by local dance company Dance Alloy, the installation aims to promote an alternative approach to looking at dance. Tickets are $10.00.

Other scheduled events in the series include the Pittsburgh Dance Council’s Choreographer’s Continuum, a master class with David Parsons, performances by the Pittsburgh Ballet, LABCO, and many others.  The Dance Alloy returns in a special artists-in -residence project with “Off the Wall: Dance Alloy at The Warhol.”  These performances will be at the museum during regular hours from May 5-9.

Watching from the Wings runs from February 28 through May 23, 1999. 

Jordan Weeks

Go to Andy Warhol Museum homepage.

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