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Past Exhibition Andy Warhol’s Social Network: Interview, Television and Portraits

September 24, 2022–March 20, 2023

A painting consisting of a burnt sienna background and illustrations of dollar signs. There are 20 illustrations total, arranged in four rows of five. Each dollar sign is rendered in varying colors, from bright blues and oranges to deep purples and reds. It appears as if the dollar signs were first screen printed with opaque silhouettes, and then overlaid with a dollar sign template that appears more painterly, as if sketched with colored pencils.

Andy Warhol, Dollar Sign, 1981
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Andy Warhol’s Social Network examines the intersections between Warhol’s longest running project, Interview magazine; his ventures in television with his original series Fashion, Warhol TV, and Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes; and his portrait commissions of the 1970s and 1980s. During this late period, Warhol transformed his studio, hired young associates and produced an entirely new and separate body of work in print media, television, and commissioned portraits that redefined the relationship between business and art, and generated a social network entirely his own.

As one of the few institutions with a near-complete archive of the magazine and the sole holder of Warhol TV, The Warhol is uniquely positioned to present this exhibition for the first time. Featuring all 204 issues of Interview from its founding in 1969 to 1987, the year of Warhol’s death, Andy Warhol’s Social Network highlights this rare holding within the museum’s collection, which has never been shown in its entirety. The exhibition charts the visual transformation of the magazine from underground film journal to an arbiter of popular culture featuring celebrities, fashion brands, and artists. The show also demonstrates how Warhol intermingled his commissioned portraits with the content and covers of the magazine and correlated this material with his television series. Warhol’s portrait commissions were both a means of social network building as well as a funding stream to support the early years of the magazine.

As Interview gained distribution and international correspondents, and his television series was picked up by MTV, Warhol’s foresight of the power of advertising over popular culture and his keen business sense were crystalized. Interview became a magazine that celebrated and sold a fantasy. By filling its pages with advertisements of alcohol, beauty products, designer fashion, and expensive jewels, the magazine presented a prescient model for aspirational living, which has been normalized today with online platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Interview’s use of brands and advertising were early examples of just how pervasive product marketing would become in everyday life.

An important and underrecognized story within the exhibition looks at the work of Richard Bernstein (1939–2002)—the artist responsible for the iconic covers of Interview from 1972 to 1989—and presents over seventy of his original collages with an installation of his Warhol Wallpaper, 1973, produced and displayed for the first time. With the engagement of Bernstein and the use of a new group of young business associates, Warhol redefined the artist magazine with lengthy, unabridged interviews, iconic celebrity covers, and forward-looking layout and design. Interview was singular in that it was an artist-run magazine with mass appeal.

Many ask how Warhol would operate in our contemporary world of social media. This exhibition explores that question by positioning Warhol as a keen businessman with an eye to the future and a clever strategy for cultivating and expanding his social network. Through Interview magazine, his television shows, and his many portrait commissions, Warhol redefined an artist’s relationship to business and created an expansive network of influential celebrities, artists, musicians, fashion designers, choreographers, movie directors, and social elites—all at a defining juncture late in his career.

Andy Warhol’s Social Network: ‘Interview’, Television and Portraits is curated by Jessica Beck, chief curator with Tyler Shine, assistant curator and Isabella Hanley, Fine Foundation fellow.

Andy Warhol’s Social Network: ‘Interview’, Television and Portraits is generously supported by The Fine Foundation and is financed in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, under the administration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

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Warhol Pop Partners

UPMC Health Plan