San Francisco, December 2008—Over the course of his meteoric career, Andy Warhol used the medium of music to transform himself from fan, to record album designer, to producer, to celebrity night-clubber, to “rock star.” Warhol Live, at the de Young from February 14 to May 17, 2009, presents the first comprehensive exploration of Andy Warhol’s work as seen through the lens of music.

From 1949, the year he arrived in New York, to 1987, the last year of his life, Warhol illustrated fifty-one album covers, from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake to Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, and Blondie. The album covers read like a history of postwar American musical tastes, from classical to pop, jazz, soul, rock, disco, and avant-garde genres. He used music in his films and filmed concerts. He produced music videos and met with musicians, notably for Interview, the magazine he founded in 1969.

This exhibition brings together a wide variety of works depicting pop music royalty, including Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Deborah Harry of Blondie, and Michael Jackson. Major Warhol silkscreen paintings, films and sound recordings, album covers, illustrations, and photographs inspired by music and the performing arts will provide a visual and aural score to Warhol’s extraordinary work and life. In addition, Warhol Live recreates some of the high points of the relationship between art and music, such as:

  • the world of Warhol’s legendary Silver Factory, the glam art loft decorated with silver paint and tin foil, where Warhol and his Superstars partied and produced artwork;
  • the multimedia performance spectacle Exploding Plastic Inevitable, staged mostly at clubs and venues in New York City but also including a U.S. tour with stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, featuring film screenings, dancers and performance art set to music by the Velvet Underground;
  • the Silver Clouds used by the art director Jasper Johns and the choreographer Merce Cunningham for the dance piece RainForest (1968), with music by David Tudor;
  • and the musical ambience of Studio 54 provided by Berkeley-based Meyer Sound Laboratories, a first at the de Young.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue titled Warhol Live: Music and Dance in Andy Warhol’s Work, by Paul Maréchal, with essays by prominent scholars and interviews with people that were involved in various stages of Warhol’s life, and the first catalogue raisonné of the record covers designed by Andy Warhol titled Andy Warhol: The Record Covers 1949–1987, also by Maréchal, accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Stéphane Aquin, curator of contemporary art at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Emma Lavigne, curator at the Musée national d’art moderne/CCI, Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Matt Wrbican, archivist at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Greg Pierce, assistant curator at The Andy Warhol Museum, put together the exhibition’s film and video programming. Timothy Anglin Burgard, the Ednah Root Curator-in-Charge of American Art, is the presenting curator at the de Young.

Warhol Live will be presented at The Andy Warhol Museum June 10 to September 15, 2009.

This exhibition is produced by The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The Supporting Partner is Macy’s. The San Francisco presentation is sponsored by Jeanne and Sandy Robertson, with additional support from the Ednah Root Foundation. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

de Young Visitor Information
The de Young, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and located in Golden Gate Park, showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international contemporary art, textiles, and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.

Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118

Tuesday–Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm. Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm. Closed on Monday.

$20 adults, $17 seniors, $16 youths 13–17 and students with a college I.D. Members and children 12 and under are free. ($10 special exhibition surcharge is included.)

The first Tuesday of every month is free. ($10 special exhibition surcharge still applies.)

The de Young is accessible to wheelchair users. For information, contact the ADA Coordinator: 415.750.7645 (voice) or 415.750.3509 (TTY).