Andy Warhol with his work, “Shadows”, back in 1979. Photo courtesy MOCA Los Angeles.
In 1979, Andy Warhol conceived “Shadows” with a goal that would not be realized. Vibrant with the high energy of a 70s disco, the 102-piece painting was designed to wrap around Studio 54, but it never did. Yes, painting, singular. Although in multiple parts, Warhol’s design is a visual décor meant to be shown as a whole. It has not been displayed in it’s entirety quite like this until today, now on view at the MOCA Los Angeles. This installation is specific. Each hand-painted silkscreen print has a number on the back of the panel.
“It is moody and full of abstraction. It looks utterly contemporary,” MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson told reporters at Friday’s preview. With abstraction on a rise among New Contemporary artists today, Warhol’s piece stands relevant while also screaming “70s”. He brings the shadow to life with strange color relationships of peach, chartreuse, hot pinks and moody silvers which enhance the flashes of positive and negative light. The painting’s heartbeat has the rhythm of Velvet Underground’s music and that of the world around him.
The original photo is a modest snapshot of a shadow on Warhol’s studio floor. Modest, but not random. In 1968, Warhol was shot by radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas and this near death experience changed him deeply. Before the incident, Warhol was an entertainer who faced American pop culture with fascination and no filter. Through this work, he is looking at a shadow of his former himself. Simpson adds, “Hopefully, Shadows can find a place next to the soup cans and the Marilyns in people’s minds when they think of Andy Warhol.”
Andy Warhol: Shadows is organized by Dia Art Foundation. It is now on view at MOCA through February 2, 2015.