What Is Warhol and the Diva?
Andy Warhol’s life and work were characterized by the glamorous lifestyles of some of the world’s performance elite, and the artist was in his element surrounded by those he admired. Warhol had the greatest respect for Opera, the art form that produced the original Diva, and he famously attended the first and last performances by Maria Callas, one of the most revered operatic sopranos of all time.
Today, Diva is used far more readily within the spheres of popular culture to describe almost any powerful, tempestuous and often egotistical female- or sometimes male- performer, and Warhol lived and breathed the glamorous existence of the Divas of his generation. Hollywood and the American dream were huge influences on the artist’s work and by exaggerating and recreating multiple images of the stars he admired, he catapulted them into iconic status and the psyches of generations to come.
Warhol and the Diva also looks at the artist himself, who underwent a series of transformations in front of the camera in a project documented by his good friend Christopher Makos. In these photographs, we see Warhol sporting a selection of wigs and dramatic make-up, within a selection of Polaroid photographs and large scale archival prints.
Warhol’s obsession with the Diva not only manifested itself in the works of art he produced, but it also permeated his own identity and persona. Just like the Divas he admired, Warhol wanted to explore his own alter ego in front of the camera, and to truly understand what it took to become a superstar like the icons he adored.
Audio Guides for visually impaired visitors are available on request at Gallery Reception. They do not need to be booked in advance but please note there are four available at any one time.
"When I think back on all the beauties we knew, I realize there was something special about the way they all held their heads and moved their arms."