From the cleverly crafted silkscreen paintings of the household staple Campbell’s Soup, Andy Warhol created the brand’s signature curved logo and bold color combination into the popular 32 canned soup canvases. Warhol may be famous for his visual art, portraits of celebrities and brand advertisements, but it was his influence on the 1950s “pop art” movement that made him one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
But never before has Warhol’s artistic expression of such a unique theme been on display in Alabama for art aficionados to view, until now. The Birmingham Museum of Art and PNC Bank present “Warhol and Cars: American Icons” to audiences starting June 24.
Asia Rambo, external communications manager for PNC Bank, said the exhibit started in Warhol’s hometown of Pittsburgh and made its way through different cities. Art enthusiasts in the Southeast get to witness Warhol’s fascination with automobiles and motor vehicles for 12 weeks.
“PNC’s long-standing partnership with the Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, created a unique opportunity to bring iconic cultural assets from the Steel City to the Magic City,” said Amber Scanlan, vice president and client and community relations director for PNC. “We were thrilled to partner with the Birmingham Museum of Art and strongly believe in the importance of fueling the ongoing cultural vitality of our region.”
The exhibition features ink drawings, paintings, film footage, model cars, photographs and archival material. Ron Platt, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, said there is a wide range of art works and materials for everyone.
“The show ranges from some of the earliest drawings he ever made that are in existence,” Platt said. “These are from the 1940s before he was in college, and the show goes all the way up to the 1980s just before the year he died.”
“Warhol and Cars” embodies the artist’s silkscreen technique and use of color that audiences have come to love in his famous paintings and portraits of celebrity icons like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jackie Onassis, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger.
“For people that already know a lot about Andy Warhol and love his artwork, I think they’ll enjoy the show and see some things they already know and things they are unfamiliar with,” Platt said. “I think it will be really eye-opening to see how he approached the theme and how he was so inventive with materials and his great sensibility for color. I think he’s underrated as someone who just understood color and how it works together.”
Jim Hansen, regional president for PNC Bank, said providing access to the arts is a vital part of PNC Bank’s commitment to the community. “We are very proud to have partnered with the Birmingham Museum of Art this summer to bring a wonderfully unique collection of Andy Warhol’s drawings, paintings and photographs to our region,” he said.
Before the exhibit opens up to the public, there will be an exclusive, intimate viewing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight. Appetizers and cocktails are on the menu, and Platt will give a lecture on Warhol’s inspiration and influence on American culture. The event is free for members and $25 for non-members.
“It’s a great opportunity to share with our audience a window into Warhol’s world, taking one particular theme and showing how he approached that theme from his earliest work up until the end of his life,” Platt said.
“Warhol and Cars: American Icons”
When: Opens Sunday and continues through Sept. 16
Where: Birmingham Museum of Art, 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd, Birmingham
Contact: 205-254-2566 or www.artsbma.org