Andy Returns To Aspen

A new Warhol exhibit makes its U.S. debut.
Andy Warhol Colorado
Andy Warhol: Lifetimes is at the Aspen Art Museum through March 27. Self-Portrait courtesy of Aspen Art Museum

By Dimitri Ehrlich

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Andy Warhol had a deep affinity for Aspen. His mother, with whom he was famously close, was born in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, so it’s possible he felt some ancestral connection to the mountainous terrain. The artist first visited Aspen in 1966, when he had an exhibit of his work at the Aspen Institute. That same year, he designed and edited the third issue of Aspen magazine. Now, 55 years after his first visit to the city, Warhol will return—not the man, of course, but his work.

The Aspen Art Museum will be the only institution in the United States chosen as the exclusive venue for Andy Warhol: Lifetimes, a major new international retrospective of Warhol’s oeuvre. The show, which will run through March 27, 2022, focuses on some of his lesser-known works, exploring his early inspirations and his role as a gay artist whose iconoclastic vision helped engender a social transformation.

Warhol, who skied Buttermilk Mountain and hobnobbed at Andre’s Club, was famously shy, elusive and obsessed with pop culture. One of the reasons his art has endured is that he was uncannily prescient about the forces of celebrity worship and consumerism in our image-driven world. His work presaged the social media era (one can only imagine what he would have made of TikTok, selfies and viral videos) but it also proved to be ahead of its time in establishing the idea of the outsider as cool. With his silkscreens, drawings, films, Interview magazine and the sheer force of his larger-than-life persona, Warhol celebrated “other-ness,” and helped move it from the margins to the spotlight of pop culture. This exhibition, which includes over 200 works, and was organized by Tate Modern, London, in collaboration with Museum Ludwig, in Cologne, Germany, Aspen Art Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, showcases that enduring aspect of his legacy.