Kooky soup can artist Andy Warhol clearly wasn’t having much fun by the time he started the work which is on display at The Whitworth art gallery in Manchester until April 2017.
He’d survived an attempt on his life and the American Dream was becoming a nightmare. In the midst of the Cold War, he took to commentary on the state of a nation obsessed with burgers, guns and dollar bills.
So you won’t see any of those colourful screen prints of Marilyn Monroe. But it’s not all bleak and gloomy in the Whitworth’s Artist Rooms celebration.
Warhol’s social commentary is mostly colourful and larger than life. There’s a hint of misappropriated wealth – large dollar signs, prints made using deep piles of diamond dust, their shimmering star lights appearing to follow you around the room.
Some images are in monochrome, however. A blind man peddles pencils to make a living in 80s America, a cadaver is examined by students. Then there’s the dark shadow of burgers and the bomb. And one of the most famous images is a vibrant exploration of the electric chair. It’s a great flavour of the artist.
The whole thing is a reminder that Manchester is lucky to have a venue worthy of hosting an exhibition of work by one of the most famous ever artists, if not human beings. It isn’t the only reason to visit, with a number of other exhibitions worth a look.
This is the first time I’ve been back to The Whitworth since it first reopened and one again I was struck by the architecture of the place. It’s a stunning space and the Warhol exhibition might be the perfect excuse for a visit.
Artist Rooms: Andy Warhol, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. (Until 16 April, 2017)