This article was first published on The Big Smoke on December 19, 2015.
A week ago the National Gallery of Victoria did something uncharacteristic. It put on an exciting show. Added to which, it isn’t a show curated elsewhere and then shipped here. It is a bona fide NGV product. It has been conceived, conceptualized and curated by the gallery, and it brings together the works of two giants, the American artist Andy Warhol, who died at the age of 59 in 1987, and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who enters his 59th this year.
This venture is entitled simply Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei.
Warhol requires no introduction. Even in the unlikely chance that you have not heard of him, his aesthetics and philosophy touch every life experiencing American soft power, that is, the allure of its culture and values. He lives in our embrace of a brash consumerist, media-driven American culture; in our love for money, fashion, media, brands, celebrity, and above all, self.
Every time you gorge on a celebrity’s divorce, near-divorce, plastic surgery, and other miseries while chomping on a packet of chips, you live Warhol’s art. Every time you buy a limited edition Coca-Cola glass and give it place of pride on your desk, Warhol grins in his grave. Every time you vote a participant out of a reality show, fashion quixotic attire from jumble sale odds and ends, or capture random, mundane details of your life on camera and share it with the world, you are acting both muse and protégé to Warhol. You are participating in art, pop art to be exact.
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