Socialist Worker

Andy Warhol at the Tate—Pop Art radical who poked fun at the establishment

by Noel Halifax
Issue No. 2696

Many of Warhol’s famous works, such as Marilyn, are on display

Many of Warhol’s famous works, such as Marilyn, are on display (Pic: Flickr/Allie_Caulfield)


Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern is the biggest exhibition of the US artist’s work for over two decades and has most of his famous works.

It is an excellent show, following the development of Warhol’s work and shows his range, whether films or prints. We go from his early days as a commercial artist to the Andy Warhol Factory era, his near fatal shooting and his later life as a celebrity.

Once you see Warhol’s work laid out historically, it becomes clear how subversive he was, commenting on developments in the art world and society at large.

In The Factory, Warhol’s New York studio between 1962 and 84, many works had little personal input from him.

It undermined the very concept of the individual artist and the pretensions of the high art world.

Radical 

Warhol’s work opened the art world to the life and vibrancy of the local street gay culture and the radical changes in 1960s US, and he put his homosexuality to the centre of his work.

His works can be seen as digs at the high art and society.

I particularly like his early piece, Thirteen Most Wanted Men, which was banned at the time for “promoting criminality”.

He made large pin ups of the FBI police’s most wanted to make fun of the word “wanted”—for him, meaning sexually attractive.

Warhol has been criticised for selling out and falling into celebrity culture, But to his credit he was one of the first established artists to welcome the new wave of street artists in the 1980s and 90s. 

And Warhol showed that art could be fun.


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