Private collection of Warhols pops up in Oxford

Beuys prints among more than 100 works drawn from Andrew and Christine Hall’s “extraordinary pack of cards”

by José da Silva  |  5 February 2016
Private collection of Warhols pops up in Oxford
Andy Warhol, Self-portrait (1967). © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc, the Artists Rights Society, New York, DACS London
More than 100 works by Andy Warhol will be exhibited for the first time today at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection (until 15 May).

The exhibition is drawn almost in its entirety from the “extraordinary pack of cards” that is the Andrew and Christine Hall collection, says the exhibition’s curator Norman Rosenthal. Spanning more than three decades of Warhol’s output, the exhibition includes early works such as Double One Dollar Bills (1962) as well as his monochromatic religious works that he made in the years shortly before his death in 1987. It is not a complete survey—“there are lots of things that aren’t here”—but is instead a “personal collection” and “something slightly different [and] rather beautiful”, Rosenthal says.
A series of traced portraits made using a carpenter’s pencil is “essentially unknown” says the director of the Ashmolean Museum, Alexander Sturgis. Portraits are central to the exhibition, says Sturgis, and particularly apt as the museum is home to “arguably the oldest portrait in the world”, the Jericho Skull (around 7000 BC) made from human bone, clay and shell. The show also includes a number of commissioned portraits of celebrities and socialites from the 1970s and 1980s, displayed side-by-side, in reference to the unrealised ambition that Warhol had to display all his commissioned portraits together on a huge wall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The show is the fourth collaboration between the museum, the Hall Art Foundation and Rosenthal. Past exhibitions have included the Hall’s collection of Joseph Beuys’ works, who is represented here by seven pieces—including three screenprints on laundry bags—made from a photograph taken by Warhol when the two artists first met in 1979.

The works from the Hall collection are supplemented by a selection of films lent by The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Among these are ten screen tests from 1964 to 1966, including four-minute portraits of Bob Dylan and Marcel Duchamp, as well as hour-long extracts from Empire (1964)—an eight-hour static shot of New York’s Empire State Building.

Meanwhile, a new commission by the British artist and Turner Prize winner, Elizabeth Price, was due to open alongside the Warhol exhibition, but the date was pushed back as “she is still working on it”, Sturgis says. Elizabeth Price: a Restoration, now opening on 18 March (until 15 May) is a 15minute, two-screen installation based on the collections of the museum and the nearby Pitt Rivers museum.  

Visitors to Oxford will not need to wait until next month if they wish to see work by Price, however, as a video piece, SLEEP (2014), will be on show at Modern Art Oxford from Saturday as part of The Indivisible Present (6 February-2-March). This will be the first of five stages of a year-long exhibition, Kaleidoscope, celebrating the gallery’s 50th year.

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