Andy Warhol is a household name now, and drawings from when he was just first starting his career in New York are rarely ever seen in the United States.
But, the Ackland Art Museum was able to acquire one of his first drawings, “Susumu Ikuta,” in 2012, and have decided to used it for their seventh installation of their ongoing series “Adding to the Mix,” which runs until April 27.
The “Adding to the Mix” series takes a recently acquired piece and builds a small show around it to demonstrate how it fits into the existing collection. This collection includes drawings by Austrian artist Egon Schiele, American artist William Auerbach-Levy and Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.
Warhol moved to New York City from Pittsburgh in 1949 and from there, became a successful commercial artist. While in the city, he came in contact with a number of other artists who introduced him to the European art movements of the time: including Schiele and Max Beckmann, who are Warhol drew considerable influence from. To show the two European artists’ influence on Warhol, sketches from the two are featured in “Adding to the Mix 7.”
Warhol also started drawing portraits of his fellow artists and friends, including Susumu Ikuta, a Japanese native who moved to Chapel Hill.
“(Warhol and Ikuta) were friends at the time, and this was really just a sketch that was made for a friend,” said Emily Kass, director of the Ackland Art Museum.
“It’s very informal, but it’s very characteristic of (Warhol’s) work.”
Kass said because many of Warhol’s drawings were in his estate and never shown, it has only been in recent years that European museums have started exhibiting them.
“These were just kind of in a drawer some place, but they’re increasingly becoming of interest to scholars,” she said.
Emily Bowles, the Ackland’s director of communications, said this piece is a nice contrast from Warhol’s more famous pieces, which are big and colorful, and it shows a side of him that people don’t know as well.
“You can pop in and visit an old favorite, or you can discover something new,” Bowles said.
“In this case, this might not be something you’d be expecting to see, but might be a really nice surprise.”
Kass said she is pleased that people will see another side of Warhol while observing other pieces of art in the same context.
“I think it’s a beautiful exhibition in terms of looking at how artists look at portraiture, how they portray their friends, lots of different styles represented, and (it’s) just a chance to look at some beautiful works of art,” Kass said.
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