Andy Warhol and his friends show work in Slovakia

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Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michael Basquiat, and Steve Kaufman meet at an unparalleled exhibition in the home town of the parents of the Pop Art king.

The ‘LOVE’ portfolio by Robert Indiana (Deluxe Edition), some of the more recent works by Andy Warhol and all the Steve Kaufman canvases - none of which has been exhibited in Central Europe before.

From 9 April 2012 a stellar lineup of artists have their works shown together at an exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in north-eastern Slovakia. Prepared by Cabeza, an art gallery society, in cooperation with the Andy Warhol Society in Medzilaborce, the exhibition entitled “Writing as an Image, Writing within an Image” not only offers over 150 artworks by Andy Warhol, but also an array of other treasured pieces by artists who were good friends of Warhol. Europe’s only Andy Warhol museum has thereby arranged a symbolic imaginary gathering of prominent world-famous artists, in the Carpatho-Ruthenian region from where Andy Warhol’s parents emigrated to Pittsburgh, PA in the early 1900s.

Andy Warhol never visited Slovakia despite having planned a visit to the Ruthenian region with his older brother John. However, due to his premature death in 1987 he never travelled to his parents' birthplace. ‘Until 1989, the former Czechoslovakia was part of the then Eastern European socialist bloc where Pop Art was perceived as dangerous, bourgeois and a capitalist art movement entirely unacceptable to the prevailing Socialist Realism. I cannot imagine what the response from the then Communist officials would have been to Warhol’s possible visit to Slovakia,’ says Martin Cubjak, one of the exhibition’s curators. Twenty-three years after the fall of Communism, Martin Cubjak and Michal Bycko, the curators of the exhibition, have managed to develop a concept combining visual artists who had a similar artistic expression and personality as Andy Warhol, or had been very close to him in one way or another. In this manner Andy Warhol is now, at least virtually, visiting a democratic Slovakia, and accompanied by his friends! This aspect has been noticed by Andy Warhol’s relatives who live in Pittsburgh. Donald Warhola, the Pop Art king’s nephew, sent a letter to Cubjak and Bycko in which he writes … ‘I believe that my uncle would feel that he is surrounded by his friends and happy that their works are being exhibited together in the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce. It would be like someone inviting friends over for coffee and a chat. Andy Warhol had a unique relationship with each of the mentioned artists. He was a good friend with Robert Indiana; a competitor with Roy Lichtenstein; a mentor to J. M. Basquiat and a future inspiration to Steve Kaufmann. I believe that if they were to be together in person – as I believe that are now in heaven – it would make for some very interesting conversation.’

‘The exhibition in Medzilaborce introduces some of the participating artists’ artworks for the first time to Central Europe,’ said Michal Bycko, the Andy Warhol Society President describing the nature of the exhibition. The basis for the exhibition’s ideological concept was not only rooted in the affinity and similarity between the artists’ artistic expression, but as Martin Cubjak says, primarily in their visually common focus using writing as part of the image. ‘We do not view writing within the image merely as a graphical part, or verbal utterance, complementary to the visual expression. Nowadays, many art historians tend to think that Andy Warhol was also influenced by the Eastern Byzantine tradition where the dominant religious symbols include icons and iconostases. The latter, as is well known, is not painted, but written. Therefore, we also perceive writing within the image as a symbol, sign and also as elements modifying, remaking or underlining that symbol or sign. This fact was the underpinning motive for the curators in conceiving the project’ say Martin Cubjak and Michal Bycko, assessing the spiritual essence of the exhibition.

Warhol’s works that can be seen at the Museum include these portfolios - Marilyn Monroe, Flowers (Black and White), Reigning Queens:Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Ingrid Bergman, St. Apollonia, Ten Jews of the Twentieth Century, In the Bottom of My Garden, H. C. Andersen, Campbell’s Soup II., Ladies and Gentleman, Martha Graham, Camouflage, and many more such as the portrait of Lenin, Hammers and Sickles, a series of portraits of Edward Kennedy, Queen Ntombi Twala, Jimmy Carter, Kimiko, W. Gretzky, Mick Jagger, Sitting Bull, and Annie Oakley, Volkswagen, The Shadow, and Electric Chairs.

In addition to Andy Warhol’s artworks, the complete ‘LOVE’ portfolio by Robert Indiana is also exhibited here, part of which are twelve original, signed and dated screen prints and twelve original, signed and dated poems with embossed print. Steve Kaufman, the erstwhile assistant to Andy Warhol at his legendary Factory, shows eighteen large-scale artworks made by the so-called ‘combined technique’ on canvas. Among his rare works shown at the exhibition are, first of all - the portrait of Marilyn Monroe, the portrait of Al Pacino (signed by the actor himself), the portrait of Oscar de la Hoya (the Barcelona Olympic winner in boxing, signed by the boxer), portraits of M. Schumacher, W. Shakespeare, T. Woods, P. Picasso, Gotti, F. Sinatra, and J. Nicholson. And, finally, there are works by two other cardinal visual artists of the 20th century – Roy Lichtenstein and J. M. Basquiat: ‘As I Opened Fire’ by Roy Lichtenstein and the artwork on paper subtitled ‘SOHO’ by J. M. Basquiat. The curators are particularly delighted to have the latter work in the exhibition - ‘Basquiat’s interconnection between sensitive expression and what has remained in his subconscious mind, from African ethnoculture to Pop Art, is clearly demonstrated in this piece.’

The ‘LOVE’ portfolio by Robert Indiana (Deluxe Edition), some of the more recent works by Andy Warhol and all the Steve Kaufman canvases - none of which has been exhibited in Central Europe before - combined with such a constellation of artists indicates this to be a ‘premiere performance’ in the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art’s history.

‘As part of the exhibition’s opening, Andy Warhol’s canvas painting ‘Dollar Sign’ is being world premiered. With its dimensions and colour variation, the canvas being shown in Slovakia represents one of the artist’s iconic motifs and is the only image of the series that has ever been exhibited’ added Ms. Natália Cubjaková, the owner of Cabeza company, who participated in the organization and borrowing of most of the exhibited works. ‘The ‘Dollar Sign’ has been lent by an individual collector from Slovakia and is very much a lucrative investment for art collectors. Its market value is estimated at $600,000’ says Natália Cubjaková.

The exhibition is open until 30 June 2012.

The Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, Slovakia was founded in 1991 thanks to the initiative of John Warhol, Michal Bycko and F. Hughes, the then President of the New York City-based Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Museum’s art-related activities are mostly focused on exhibitions and educational programs. It is also involved in research projects to study tendencies in the visual arts that relate to the impact of an artist’s ethnic background upon his or her work, the influence of Pop Art on contemporary visual art in Slovakia, and so on. Last September the Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Museum opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday: 9:00 – 17:00
Saturdays and Sundays: 10:00 – 17:00


Adults €3.50
Students, seniors and disabled persons €1.70

Guided tours €7.00


Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art
Andy Warhol St. 749/26
068 01 Medzilaborce

tel: +421 57 74 800 72
tel: +421 57 73 210 69

email: awmuzeum(at)post(dot)sk
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