Exhibition to showcase some of iconic US artist’s most celebrated works

Andy Warhol makes Belfast debut

By Francesca Ryan

The work of one of the world’s most famous artists is to be celebrated in Belfast.

Andy Warhol is one of the most influential American artists of the 20th century and a leading figure in the movement known as ‘Pop Art’. His work explores the  relationships between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertising that flourished during the 1960s.

From February through to April, the MAC will hold the first ever major exhibition of Warhol’s work in the North and the first in Ireland since the record-breaking retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1997/98.

But in a fittingly innovative fashion, the MAC have pulled out all the stops and are offering visitors a full package of events that pertain to Warhol’s life and works.

The MAC has worked in partnership with the Tate’s ARTIST ROOMS on Tour scheme to bring the work to Belfast and the exhibition includes popular imagery from some of Warhol’s most famous works including Chairman Mao, Hamburger, Cow Wallpaper and references to the famous nightclub, Studio 54. But alongside this amazing exhibition in all three of the arts venue’s galleries, staff at the MAC have created a whole season of Warhol-inspired events in celebration of this unique occasion. From a Studio 54 disco night, featuring the  original resident DJ from the world-famous club, Nicky Siano, to live theatre by the Gob Squad, who will attempt to reconstruct Warhol’s films that encapsulated the hedonistic energy of the swinging sixties, no stone has been left unturned in this package.

“The Tate had planned to rest this Warhol exhibit,” explained Gillian Mitchell, Director of Programmes at the MAC, “but they were very impressed with our gallery and standards the last time we worked together and so they offered it to us.

“This has given us the chance to show how we can do things holistically, so we have created one beautiful package of music, art and performance to complement the exhibit. We believe we can find a new audience for contemporary art by showing people a good time and that’s what we have done with the events. The Studio 54 night, for example, will be first class as we will be recreating the atmosphere of Studio 54 to give people that feel from the minute they get through the door. The fact that we have Studio 54’s original DJ, Nicky Siano, coming to DJ that night will make for an incredibly authentic experience.

“This is about showing what the MAC can do because nobody else will do it quite like us.

“We are mixing it up, but we have serious intent as it will take a serious look at Warhol’s influence on fashion and music, we are just doing it in a unique way.”

As Curator at the MAC, Hugh Mulholland is the man with the hefty responsibility of ensuring the exhibit itself is up to the mark.

“They’re all here,” he said.  “We have about 100 pieces in total and we are installing them at the minute.

“We have some of Warhol’s later works and it includes many of his iconic images like Chairman Mao, Hamburger, Cow Wallpaper, some of Warhol’s famous portraits and a series of advertising images.

“This is a big deal for us and a huge test because it requires so much work and expertise, but we are able for it and we believe that less than a year after we opened it is significant to have such an important exhibit here.

“It’s been 15 years since Warhol was exhibited in Ireland and this is the first exhibit in Northern Ireland so it’s very significant.

“It’s also a very interesting period of Warhol’s work, it will give us a sense of what it was like when he was producing the work, the other events will work in with that too. It’s an interesting and contemporary way of doing it and we are proud of the whole package,” added Hugh.

The Warhol season at the MAC runs from February 8 to  April 28. The exhibition is free of charge and open daily from 10am to 7pm. For more information on the exhibit or the whole season of Warhol-inspired events at the MAC, call them on 90 235053 or log on to www.themaclive.com

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