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Culture Reviews
Andy Warhol and Russian Pop Art exhibitions
Tretyakov Gallery at Krymsky Val 
By Keith Guzik
The chips on the shoulders of cultural critics are many. Chief among them are the seeming lack of standards for defining art (“is Damien Hirst’s cow in formaldehyde really art?”) and the ability of pop icons to gain and hold onto fame by manipulating their image rather than their craft (“I felt like the 'P' was getting between me and my fans,” the newly-monikered Diddy remarked recently). As two new exhibitions at the New Tretykov Gallery demonstrate, pop artists make reinventing the self and erasing the lines between the beautiful and pedestrian into their own art forms.

“Andy Warhol: Artist of Modern Life” provides a comprehensive look into the artist’s career, beginning with his work in advertising during the 1950s, when he first moved to New York, to his collaborations with young artists (Basquiat, Mapplethorpe, Schnabel) in the 1980s, by which time he had become king of the New York cultural scene. Warhol’s interest in the interplay between mass-culture images and the self are on display in his famous silk-screen portraits. Present are his iconic images of Jackie O, Elvis, Mick Jagger, and Liz Taylor, not to mention himself. Warhol’s interest in representing the self is also captured in photographs of some of his favorite personalities, including Marilyn Monroe. Not to be missed though are photos of the marginal, the famous, and the marginally famous making up Warhol’s New York. The sets dedicated to Candy Darling, a Long Island transvestite who gained her own notoriety in the city, and Edie Sedgwick, who starred in many of Warhol’s films, only to be fatally saved by “associates” of Bob Dylan (so notes the text accompanying the photos), communicate the energy, novelty, innocence, and tragedy lived by Warhol and those around him. Warhol’s experimentation with the forms and subjects of art continues in the still-lifes presented at the exhibit. The paintings and silk-screens of everyday objects-a telephone, a Colt revolver, the infamous Campbell soup cans – serve as chronicles of a cultural moment when the boundaries between the artful and the everyday were dismantled.

The blurring between the ordinary and artistic is also exhibited in “Russian Pop Art.” Like the Warhol exhibit, “Russian Pop Art” is set up chronologically, running from Mikhail Roginsky’s and Ilya Kabakov’s work with everyday objects in the 1960s (matchbox, door, iron) to Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe’s work, “Monroe-Warhol-Monroe,” an avtoportret of the artist dressed up as Marilyn fashioned after Warhol’s famous Monroe icons. While the sheer newness of these works for those of us from the West makes them interesting, a few pieces stand out. Yuri Vasilyev’s assemblage, “The Suffering of Modern Woman”, depicting the domestic life of a Russian housewife through a composition of photographs, copper wire, razor blades, and doorbells, makes a powerful visual statement. And the paintings of Alexander Vinogradov and Vladimir Dubossarsky, current darlings of Russian art in the West, provide a “portrait of our time” through eroticized and glossed-up images of fashion designers, strippers, yappies, mafia, and the like. If more politically-minded than the work of Warhol, the pieces in this collection continue the reflection and fascination with the everyday that inspires the pop art movement and vexes those who would rather keep the masses outside the museum gates. Read more


“Andy Warhol: Artist of Modern Life” and “Russian Pop Art,” from September 14th to November 13th, the New Tretyakov Gallery, 10 Krymsky Val. Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 8pm, last entry 7pm. Metro Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury. Telephone: 230-7788/1378. www.tretyakovgallery.ru.

15.09.05
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