Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce a historical exhibition featuring the work of three highly influential artists, Giorgio de Chirico, Francis Picabia, and Andy Warhol. It will be curated in close collaboration with Dr. Robert Rosenblum, professor of Modern European Art and Fine Arts at New York University, who will also contribute an essay to the illustrated catalogue.
The exhibition sets out to explore the hidden links that exist not only between these artists’ work, but also between their lives. There is a tendency at present to categorize each simply by the movements they epitomize, and yet to do so is to deny the complexity and originality of their respective artistic visions. Indeed, each of these men was a renegade in his own time, both in terms of his aesthetic creations and personal engagements. While de Chirico was initially banished from the art historical canon for his deliberate revisitation of his own earlier work and for his desertion of the tenets of modernism, Picabia’s departure from Paris Dada to sleek commercial realism evoked cries of treason from proponents of the modern movement. Warhol, who started out as a commercial illustrator, was a similarly pioneering spirit who began producing art that mimicked the very condition of mass advertising out of which his sensibility had grown. We recognize in this sensibility a fundamental relationship to the counterfeiting and seriality of de Chirico and to the affectlessness of Picabia, and we ultimately believe that the juxtaposition of these artists’ work will help clarify and refine each one’s inimitable role in the twentieth-century canon.
The exhibition will feature several of de Chirico’s early metaphysical works, including his seminal Composizione metafisica of 1914 and Armoires dans une vallée, 1926. Also on view are a number of later works concerned with subjects that preoccupied the artist in the latter half of his career: gladiators engaged in combat, horses resting on a beach, and the bathers from his “Mysterious Baths” series. Finally, echoing the early works is Il trovatore, a beautiful painting from 1955 that revisits the painter’s early style. The pieces by Picabia include Le Mirage (1929) and Minos (1930), two important works from the artist’s “Transparencies” series; an early nude entitled Portrait of Suzy Solidor, 1933; several portraits which demonstrate the artist’s increasing employment of a stark form of realism, including Portrait de Suzanne and Le Noir et la Blanche, both from 1942; and a number of late abstract paintings. Warhol’s oeuvre will include his portraits of Sandy Brant, Paul Delvaux, Jean Cocteau, and art dealer Alexandre Iolas (whose portrait by de Chirico also appears in the exhibition); Eighteen Multi-Colored Marilyns (Reversal Series), 1979-86; Be a Somebody with a Body, 1985-86; Knives, 1981-82; and images drawn from advertising. Finally, we are pleased to include several paintings and works on paper from Warhol’s “After de Chirico” series of 1982, including The Poet and his Muse (After de Chirico) and The Two Sisters (After de Chirico). Cognizant himself of the very similarities Sperone Westwater hopes to demonstrate, Warhol was evidently delighted by the notion of reproducing the early de Chirico classics that the older artist had later reproduced himself; in an interview with Achille Bonito Oliva, he said “I love [de Chirico’s] art and then the idea he repeated the same paintings over and over again…he liked it and viewed repetition as a way of expressing himself. This is probably what we have in common…The difference? What he repeated regularly, year after year, I repeat the same day in the same painting.”
A catalogue, complete with color plates of each piece and related photographic documentation, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. Accompanying the lead essay by Dr. Robert Rosenblum will be secondary texts by Fabio Benzi, Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of Chieti near Rome, and Professor Jole de Sanna of the Fondazione di Giorgio e Isa de Chirico in Rome.