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Time Capsule Exhibition Premieres in Germany






Andy Warhol Time Capsules

Only a fraction of the more than 600 cardboard time capsules that Andy Warhol filled with objects of his daily existence have been opened, let alone unveiled to the public in an exhibition of their own.

But the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, Germany, has been collaborating with The Andy Warhol Museum to create the first display of multiple entries in Warhol’s curious, three-dimensional diaries. The entire contents of 15 boxes will be shown this fall at the Frankfurt museum in the exhibition Andy Warhol Time Capsules.

The exhibition will be returned to The Warhol for a similar display during fall 2004. While in Frankfurt, the items will be intermingled with pieces from the modern art museum’s permanent collection of works by Warhol and other contemporary artists.

“ The scale of this show is immense,” says John Smith, The Warhol’s assistant director for Collections and Research. “Each box has 200 to 300 single objects in it. Multiply that by 15 and you realize how many different single pieces we’re dealing with.

“ It would have been difficult for us to take on a project like this on our own,” he continues. To organize a tour of the exhibition required this kind of really close collaboration.”

Such collaborations also give the museum opportunities to build exhibitions it might not be able to afford independently. “It’s one exhibition, but both institutions will show it in completely different ways,” Smith says.

The Warhol Director Thomas Sokolowski points out that the institution’s role as custodian of Warhol’s legacy includes more than preservation and study; it also means sharing his output with other audiences so that they might be able to understand and appreciate his work, and therefore, his life.

Because Warhol apparently was the world’s biggest packrat, curators had a tough time trying to decide which of the 100 or so inventoried boxes would go overseas.

“ We really tried to look for a selection of boxes that seemed to represent the full range of what the Time Capsules are about,” Smith explains. The goal, of course, was to show the most interesting capsules, “without losing sight of the fact that what makes these things interesting is that a box might contain a half-dozen drawings from the 1950s, and in that same box might be Warhol’s electric bill.”

Assistant Archivist Matthew Wrbican says the chosen boxes contain about four-dozen drawings. One has 200 strips of photo booth snapshots. Another features a pair of Clark Gable’s shoes. They were still on their shoe trees when Gable’s widow mailed them to Warhol after catching a gossip columnist’s report—planted by Warhol—that he was collecting celebrities’ shoes. Archivist excavators found them in their original cardboard mailing box, which previously held cans of house paint.

It’s hard for Wrbican to single out some of the most exciting objects because, for him, a seemingly innocuous receipt or unpaid bill might hold clues that lock pieces of Warhol’s puzzling life together. Collectively, these items also uncover many previously hidden layers of his personality.

“ His humanity comes out in some of this material,” Smith says.

He notes the boxes’ contents also provide evidence that no one escapes the onslaught of minutiae that rules much of our daily lives.

“ Whether you’re an artist or an accountant, you still get your electric bills and junk mail,” Smith notes with a laugh. Warhol’s boxes offer insights as to just how much information we encounter on a day-to-day basis. And whether we like it or not, we have to find ways of processing that information; it just so happens that Warhol’s method was far more eccentric than most.

But who doesn’t fantasize about tossing bills in a box and simply ignoring them?
Warhol’s practice, Smith observes, “is a way of dealing with it and not dealing with it at the same time.”

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The Summer of Andy
Continues Into Fall

The “Summer of Andy” days may be getting shorter, but three important exhibitions remain on display at The Andy Warhol Museum: Keith Edmier and Farrah Fawcett; The American Supermarket; and Clown Paintings: From the Collection of Diane Keaton and Others.

Colleen Russell Criste, assistant director for External Affairs, notes, “The Summer of Andy concept has given us the chance to wrap our arms around the museum’s wide range of public events, including these special exhibitions, the Good Fridays weekly happy hour and performance series, our films, our wine tastings, and more.”

The Edmier/Fawcett exhibition, continuing through October 5, is the result of a two-year partnership between the original Charlie’s Angels icon and Edmier, who invited her to become the subject of an artwork. Instead, she became his collaborator, and together they created drawings, photographs, and the exhibition’s focus, life-sized nude sculptures of one another. In the process, they scrutinized and deconstructed both the ties uniting and the barriers separating fans and stars.

In 1964, Warhol and fellow Pop Art pioneers Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Artschweiger, Robert Watts, and Tom Wesselman combined their work in a groundbreaking exhibition at the Bianchini Gallery in New York. The American Supermarket, on display through October 5, is a re-creation of that reality-blurring exhibition, itself a re-creation of a core element in the growth of consumerism.

Similar in nature to Warhol’s cookie jar collection, Clown Paintings represents more than a simple fascination with kitsch. These amateur paintings spoke to their collectors with an emotional intensity that’s even more evident when viewed together. They can be seen through October 26.

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