Autumn season: Making Things Public

Autumn season: Making Things Public

Tate Liverpool

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962. Acrylic paint on canvas, support (each): 2054 x 1448 x 20 mm. © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London.

November 2, 2014

Transmitting Andy Warhol
Gretchen Bender
The Serving Library

7 November 2014–8 February 2015

Albert Dock

Tate Liverpool’s autumn season Making Things Public looks anew at the careers of Andy Warhol and Gretchen Bender, while also introducing the activities of The Serving Library. Examining broadcasting, publishing and distribution in the context of extending the possibilities and expectations of artistic practice, Making Things Public interrogates how different generations of artists have responded to and experimented with mass media.

Andy Warhol recognised no boundaries in distributing his work. The exhibition Transmitting Andy Warhol is the first in-depth exploration of how Warhol regarded the public sphere as a network which circulated and provided life support for his images and ideas, enabling him to radically expand the channels for distributing art. The exhibition investigates the breadth of the artist’s processes and his world views, as well as the social, political and aesthetic implications of his ground-breaking practice. Responding to Warhol’s democratic conviction that “art should be for everyone,” the exhibition traces the artist’s ambivalent relationship to the encroachment of consumer culture and mass media into the realms of visual representation. As his activities took on a lateral approach to the means of production and dissemination, Warhol redefined the parameters by which painting—and artists generally—could now operate. Central to this attitude was Warhol’s infiltration of these new forms of ‘transmission’ and lack of distinction between “high” and “low” art in how he might dedicate himself equally to filmmaking, broadcasting, painting, design and publishing. The exhibition also looks at how this approach extended to his continuous commercial work—such as commissions for Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire—as well as TV advertisements to culminate in the multi-sensorial expanded cinema environment of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable of which the Velvet Underground were a key component. Warhol’s experiments with the networks for distributing art is especially important today in an era when digital media offers artists, as well as any member of the public, increasing possibilities of making information, images and ideas public.

Juxtaposed with Warhol, in the first solo exhibition of her work in the UK to date, Gretchen Bender looks at the pioneering video artist who created works in response to the fast flowing, pervasive mass media imagery. The exhibitions highlight parallels and contrasts in the two artists’ approach: while Warhol was complicit with the channels by which he disseminated his work, Bender, immersed in the critical art scene of early 1980s New York, attacked the zeitgeist on its own terms. Concerned with the impact on the individual of mass information systems such as television, she sought, through works she described as “electronic theatre,” to reveal how political and corporate power could be wielded through the media’s seductive spectacle. “In a media culture saturated by corporate self-representation, it is,” argued Bender, the “images themselves that prevent us from seeing the reality of the world we’ve constructed.” Likening the media to “a cannibalistic river,” she appropriated television, photography, animation and computer generated imagery into her work as a means of engaging with while at the same time questioning this aggressive aspect of latter twentieth century capitalism.   

Adding to the layered practice of Andy Warhol and Gretchen Bender is The Serving Library, a collection of works and publications alongside a website and an archive. Exploring the model of what a library might be, its eclectic and diverse set of functions are mirrored by its collection, the items of which—including airbrush paintings by the artist Chris Evans and a photograph of an upside-down sketch of the London Underground map by Harry Beck—served initially to illustrate the essays of in-house journal Bulletins of The Serving Library (previously Dot Dot Dot). Shown in various ways at a number of host venues, this exhibition is a step closer to its aim of finding a permanent home that fulfils a flexible range of functions involving formats of public exposure such as the publication, the exhibition, live events and the convivial space of a bar.

Transmitting Andy Warhol is supported by Terra Foundation for American Art, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Liverpool City council and Tate Liverpool Members.
Includes works from the ARTIST ROOMS collection.
Gretchen Bender is supported by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Tate Liverpool autumn season: Making Things Public
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November 2, 2014

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