A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art examines the lasting influence of Andy Warhol, who remains as stubbornly culturally relevant as ever, 25 years after his death. "Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years," attempts to capture the scope of Warhol's extraordinary influence on contemporary American art, featuring the work of artists like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Richard Prince — famous artists in their own right. By placing the works of these artists side by side with Warhol's, the exhibit is partly a retrospective, partly a tribute, and partly something new entirely. Though Andy Warhol is the frame, the format allows for a conversation between his work, and the works of those he influenced.
John Hockenberry had a unique opportunity to tour the exhibit with its curator, Marla Prather, and an artist whose work is featured in the exhibit, Tom Sachs.
The question was: What would such an exhibit look like visually? This was how the idea to use Warhol's work alongside that of important artists he had influenced was born, so that one could see an evolution of ideas over time. For example, while Warhol may have introduced the idea of using banal images, like Campbell's soup cans and nose job ads, and making them iconic, subsequent artists, and even his contemporaries, built on this idea. "He wasn't the only artist to do that," Prather explains, "but I think that the way the images have now accumulated through artists of the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the three generations really represented in this exhibition, I think we absolutely have seen the world transformed."
More than being about the evolution of ideas though, Prather says the exhibit is about the way that artists speak to one another, and how these conversations translate to their work. Sachs says that, for him, Warhol's influence on his art is unconscious. "Influence is a little bit like magic. It's this thing that you can't control, and you feel, and then you find your way of integrating it into the world."