CULTURE

Contrasting Andy Warhol shows at two Athens venues

Images of martyrs take a leading role in «Warhol/ Icon: The Creation of Image,» an exhibition exploring Warhol’s obsession with fame, inaugurated earlier this week at the recently revamped Byzantine and Christian Museum. In order to reach the three halls hosting the king of pop art’s portraits, visitors are obliged to walk through the museum’s permanent collections. According to Paul Moorhouse, a distinguished War-hol scholar and the exhibition’s curator, this route creates a feeling of continuity. Warhol, says Moorhouse, was influenced by Byzantine art from a very early age, absorbing the motifs and decorations at his church in Pittsburgh in the kind of way that others would have been moved by a museum visit. In the museum’s basement, the three halls present a kind of 20th-century iconography a la Warhol: Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and Prince Charles all turn into symbols, much loved subjects of a postmodern reality. In most cases, they become almost martyr figures. In the manner of Byzantine icons you might ask? Well, sort of, but in a pop kind of way. For Moorhouse, a walk through the halls hosting Warhol’s works will enable visitors to grasp the personal identity slowly turning into an image, a mask, something abstract. The opposite occurs at a venue not far from the museum: At the Potnia Thiron-Bank of Attention art space (co-organizer of both shows, along with the Haunch of Venison Gallery) a parallel exhibition «Warhol: Screen Tests,» is the largest ever show of the late artist’s signature screen tests. Here, in contrast with the works on display at the museum, the fame and symbolism accompanying the celebrities starring in Warhol’s three-minute tests slowly give way to the real people hiding behind the mask. The fragile human nature unfolds in front of Warhol, the director, who asks his subjects to remain still, without sound, action, narration or script. Dennis Hopper, Salvador Dali, Edie Sedgwick and Lou Reed are among the 100 personalities featured. Both exhibitions are supported by the Warhol family, the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Andy Warhol Museum. At the Byzantine and Christian Museum (22 Vas. Sofias) and the Potnia Thiron-Bank of Attention (7 Zaimi). Both exhibitions run to January 10, 2010.