How Andy Warhol Took Over Dublin's Hugh Lane Gallery

By Maria Bregman

Andy Warhol is everywhere. His images of soup cans, celebrities, and Mao are ingrained in our collective consciousness, his name synonymous with pop art and the Factory. But there is more to Warhol than meets the eye, as a new exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin reveals.

The exhibition, titled “Andy Warhol: Three Times Out”, is the largest Warhol show ever staged in Ireland, featuring over 100 works from the 1950s to the 1980s, spanning his early drawings, his famous silk-screens, and his later prints and collaborations. The exhibition also includes a room full of his Silver Clouds, helium-filled balloons that float and bounce in the air, creating a playful and immersive environment.

The exhibition aims to present Warhol in a new light, exploring his influences, his impact, and his legacy. Curated by Michael Dempsey and Logan Sisley, the exhibition is divided into three sections: Out of Time, Out of Place, and Out of Line.

Out of Time focuses on Warhol’s relationship with time, both in terms of his personal history and his artistic practice. Warhol was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, to a working-class family of Slovak immigrants. He grew up in a devout Byzantine Catholic household, attending church regularly and learning about the saints and icons. His religious upbringing had a lasting effect on his art, as he often used religious imagery and symbolism, such as halos, crosses, and rosaries, in his drawings and prints.

Warhol was also fascinated by the concept of time, especially the idea of repetition and duration. He used the silk-screen technique to create multiple copies of the same image, varying the colors and the composition, creating a sense of rhythm and movement. He also experimented with time-based media, such as film and video, capturing everyday scenes and actions in real time, such as sleeping, eating, or kissing.

Out of Place examines Warhol’s relationship with place, both in terms of his geographical and cultural context. Warhol moved to New York in 1949, where he became a successful commercial illustrator, working for magazines, advertising agencies, and fashion houses. He also immersed himself in the city’s vibrant art and social scene, befriending artists, writers, musicians, and celebrities. He established his studio, the Factory, as a hub of creativity and collaboration, where he produced his art and hosted parties, performances, and events.

Warhol was also interested in the idea of place, especially the contrast between the local and the global, the familiar and the foreign. He used images from mass media and popular culture, such as newspapers, magazines, and television, to reflect the changing world and society. He also traveled extensively, visiting different countries and continents, and incorporating elements of their culture and history into his art. He was particularly drawn to China, where he visited in 1982, and created a series of portraits of Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist Party.

Out of Line explores Warhol’s relationship with line, both in terms of his formal and conceptual approach. Warhol started his career as a draughtsman, using ink, pencil, and watercolor to create delicate and expressive drawings of various subjects, such as flowers, animals, and people. He developed a distinctive style of drawing, using a blotted-line technique, where he transferred ink from one sheet of paper to another, creating a spontaneous and fluid effect.

Warhol also used line as a way of challenging and subverting the norms and conventions of art and society. He experimented with different materials and methods, such as collage, photomontage, and oxidation, to create unconventional and provocative works. He also tackled controversial and taboo topics, such as sexuality, politics, and death, in his art, exposing the dark and hidden aspects of human nature and culture.

The exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery not only showcases Warhol’s diverse and prolific oeuvre, but also demonstrates his relevance and influence today. Warhol was a visionary and a pioneer, who anticipated and shaped the trends and transformations of the contemporary art world and society. He was one of the first artists to embrace and exploit the art market and the art fair, creating a global brand and a cult of personality. He was also one of the first artists to engage and collaborate with other disciplines and fields, such as music, fashion, and technology, creating a multidisciplinary and multimedia practice.

The exhibition is a testament to Warhol’s enduring legacy and appeal, as well as a tribute to his Irish connection. Warhol had a fondness for Ireland, where he visited several times, and where he had a distant relative, the poet William Butler Yeats. He also donated some of his works to the Hugh Lane Gallery, which has a permanent collection of his prints and posters.

The exhibition runs until April 23, 2024, and is accompanied by a catalogue and a programme of events and activities. It is a rare opportunity to see Warhol’s art in all its glory and complexity, and to discover the man behind the myth.