“My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.” Andy Warhol
In the few days (til 25 Sept) you have left to view Warhol and the Diva, here are my top tips for making the most of this delightfully put-together exhibition:
- Have a good look at the Interview magazine covers. Great 80s gloss and popping colours with a sense that the portraits are real, but not, a sheen of plastic gloss to them (Mick Jagger is great and there’s an early Madonna cover from 1985)
- Sit in the bubble chair; cool and very comfy. While you’re there have a flick through some Warhol-related books and Flic Everett’s essay on who today’s Divas are (… and who they aren’t)
- Don’t walk past Judy Garland in Blackglama (1985), an advert for furs – it’s all about Judy, the diva, the legend, the text is minuscule and the fur detail itself very sketchy.
- Hunker down on a zebra print bean bag to watch some of the hour long film of Warhol dragging up for a Christopher Markos photo shoot. Fascinating viewing, Warhol looks lost, sad and fragile.
- A room is dedicated to Markos’s work with Warhol. Red, leopard print and gold walls, an ornate chandelier and a diamanté sofa. The gold wall holds three Marilyn prints from the same photo in 1967. Colours create a contrast in mood: the first sultry in rich gold and pink, the second black and grey, sad and contemplative, and the third bold and confident in gaudy green, red and yellow.
- Be sure to look closely at the Polaroids as you enter the exhibition, showing parts of the creative process, including headshots of Warhol (in various guises) and many of his divas (Diana Ross, Liza Minelli and Divine, to name three). The ‘Frightwig’ black and white image of Warhol is stark, birdlike and powerful. It was in these Polaroids in which is struck me how important big hair* is for a diva. (*Booking in for a quick blow-dry once I’ve blogged this).
Warhol and the Diva. The Lowry, Salford til 25 September.
Nadav Kander: Selected Portraits 1999-2011
While at the Lowry, I took a stroll along the gallery by the window (as I call it, anyway!). Unfortunately the exhibition has now closed but it was a striking selection of excellent and thoughtful photographic portraits.
Three of my favourites:
- Christopher Lee (2002) – dramatic colouring, disembodied head, looks like an actor, fantastic lighting and minute and honest detail.
- Lily Allen II (2008) – I love the blue wash the image seems to have been diffused with. Allen looks tiny, very young and delicately beautiful – her turn of the head suggests she’s caught unaware.
- Cheryl Cole (2009) – the bunny ears are cute, playful but without being the usual overt sexiness they may often convey. Cole looks glossy but natural, with a casual top and vulnerability in her seated pose. It’s unexpected from usual celebrity poses and bright colourful, glamorous images we see of her.
Honourable mentions go to the unexpected elements Kander brings to portraits of Tinie Tempah, Morrissey, Spike Jonze and Erin O’Connor (after Millais).