“The Idea Is Not To Live Forever, It Is To Create Something That Will”
“A friend had written me a note saying that everybody we knew was writing a book so that made me want to keep up and do one too.” — Andy Warhol
One of the most compelling aspects of the current “Warhol by the Book” exhibition at Williams College Museum of Art is the curatorial approach of showing personal items belonging to and relating to the artist, in conjunction with the artist’s own works. With unprecedented access to personal items from The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh merged with the holdings of the Williams College Museum of Art, the curators of “Warhol By The Book” were given a rare opportunity to allow the viewer to share in Warhol’s own experience from youth into his later years.
Although the exhibit centers on Warhol’s relationship to books, there are expansive representations of his drawings, silk screens, paintings and photographs on display, as well as eclectic examples of work by Warhol’s colleagues and predecessors whose aesthetics directly informed the artist. Arranged throughout the exhibit as thematic or time-based stations, each area focuses on a project, event or time period from Warhol’s career. The curatorial intelligence of these groupings adds depth and intimacy to the works themselves.
As a youth, Andy Warhol was a prolific doodler. Pages of a psychology textbook Warhol used in his early years are covered in cross-hatching, indiscriminate lines and what appear to be games of tic tac toe. This same urgency to draw in unexpected venues contributed to Warhol’s prodigious and varied artistic output throughout his fabled life. As a student, Warhol possessed and undoubtedly read “Colours of the Masters: Bonnard” (1946), “Painting and Drawings of Matisse” (1948) and “Anatomy and Drawing” by Victor Perard (1928). Viewing close-up the same volumes handled by Warhol brings a sense of immediacy to the artist’s life and background, traversing his legendary status and the distance of years.