Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of an important selection of Andy Warhol's Philip's Skull paintings. Warhol completed these works in 1985, using silkscreens made from CAT-scan films of the skull of Philip Niarchos, who commissioned the artist to paint his portrait.
Warhol's decision to use the CAT scans as a motif of portraiture is extremely rich in connotation. While Philip Niarchos had been a friend of the artist for many years, he also epitomized for Warhol the upper crust of the international jet set, the clientele he had sought since the 1970s for his financially lucrative society portraits. Therefore, the CAT-scan paintings are not only references to the tradition of memento mori painting, but also to his own production of the vanity portraits of high society. In addition, the CAT-scan images refer back to the large ensemble of Skull Paintings and his many self-portraits with skulls that Warhol had painted nearly a decade before.
Of course, all these permutations of the image of the skull figure prominently in the themes of death and disaster present in Warhol's entire body of work beginning in the early 1960s, including his portraits of movie stars and celebrities viewed as commodities and as articles of mass consumption. The paintings of Philip's Skull are especially relevant to this theme of fame-as-death, one of the great motifs in Warhol's career.
Like nearly all of Warhol's work, the Philip's Skull paintings have their root in photography, since most of his silkscreens were made from photographs, many of them borrowed from other sources. The same is true, of the medical CAT scans of Niarchos' cranium and brain. But from these dry, borrowed, or even morose sources, Warhol creates works of art full of resonance, from the connotations of the dark side of human existence, to the wildly brilliant display of painting and color, celebrity and extravagance.
The Art History of Presidential Campaign Posters
Against the backdrop of the 2020 US presidential election, historian Hal Wert takes us through the artistic and political evolution of American campaign posters, from their origin in 1844 to the present. In an interview with Quarterly editor Gillian Jakab, Wert highlights an array of landmark posters and the artists who made them.
I’ll Be Your Mirror: Allen Midgette
Raymond Foye speaks with the actor who impersonated Andy Warhol during the great Warhol lecture hoax in the late 1960s. The two also discuss Midgette’s earlier film career in Italy and the difficulty of performing in a Warhol film.
On Collecting with Norman Diekman
Rare-book expert Douglas Flamm speaks with designer Norman Diekman about his unique collection of books on art and architecture. Diekman describes his first plunge into book collecting, the history behind it, and the way his passion for collecting grew.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019
The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.
Cast a Cold Eye: The Late Works of Andy Warhol
October 25–December 22, 2006
West 21st Street, New York