MAY 26–AUGUST 19, 2012
“In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” —Andy Warhol
It can be said that Andy Warhol was decades ahead of his time. He created some of the most well-known images found in Contemporary Art. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans, Coca Cola bottles and Brillo boxes are instantly recognizable icons in their own right. However, his most enduring legacy may be found in his portraits. During the span of his career, Andy Warhol created portraits from over 1,100 sitters.
Warhol understood the importance of celebrity and its role as a commodity in society. Decades before social media and reality television settled into Western Culture, a Warhol portrait was both a product and a symbol of fame.
Although many of the faces represented on the gallery walls of Virginia MOCA may be unfamiliar today, they are important to the history of American society. They represent people who were instrumental in creating the popular culture of their time. Warhol transformed the likenesses of artists, politicians, movie stars and fashion models. Their fame may have been fleeting but their portraits endure. Any true understanding of Andy Warhol as a person and an artist cannot be attained without knowing the remarkable personalities behind his portraits.