Back in the day — before cable TV, reality shows and the Internet — people got their gossip from tabloid newspapers and magazines. Andy Warhol inhaled them all, then turned it into art.
Now, 50 years later, the pop icon is getting his first-ever show at the National Gallery of Art: “Warhol: Headlines.” Washington is the first stop for the international exhibition, which will travel to Frankfurt , Rome, and Pittsburgh, the artist’s home town.
To celebrate the milestone exhibit, the gallery invited members of Warhol’s entourage and VIP admirers to Wednesday’s black-tie dinner in the gallery’s East Wing.
“Anything that Warhol does is not only interesting but fun,” said Washington doyenne Ina Ginsburg, a close friend of the artist (who died in 1987) and Washington editor of Interview magazine. In the house: Factory “superstar” and art collector Baby Jane Holzer, filmmaker and Warhol business partner Vincent Fremont, director John Waters, National Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine, White House interior designer Michael Smith, Sharon Rockefeller, NGA president Vicki Sant, director Rusty Powell, and trustee and modern art collector Mitch Rales.
The reviews, as you’d expect, were glowing.
“There’s stuff here I’ve never seen and I have, like, 800 Warhol books,” Waters told us. “Those early drawing are so ahead of their time and incredibly beautiful to me. You just realize how much he changed everything forever.” Copying pages from newspapers might seem tame to audiences today, but in the 50’s, said Waters, “that was the opposite of what art was. It’s so great and so radical. All good contemporary art is bait to make people [upset.]”
True to Warhol’s high-low aesthetic, the evening mixed tabloid images with the gallery’s signature elegance: Diamond-clad donors, champagne, lobster, chateaubriand and chocolate souffles.
Too establishment for Warhol’s tastes? Not at all, said Ginsburg: “Any artist would enjoy a night like this. It’s a big compliment.”