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Andy Warhol Casts a "Shadow" Over Chicago

By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 11, 2011 3:00PM

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Andy Warhol’s Shadows—a series of whimsical, abstract paintings (“disco d├ęcor” as the American artist once dubbed them)—are making their Chicago debut mere steps from the hustle and chaos of the strip-mall that is the Magnificent Mile. (We pause to briefly consider what the king of pop art, in his trademark shades, white fright-wig and sunglasses would make of the brassy, cheap-chic of Forever 21 or the stone and glass monolith that is the Apple store.)

While Warhol was obviously inspired by popular culture (see Brillo box and Campell’s soup), Shadows was something of a departure for the artist—a singular work, both in form and scope. Ronnie Cutrone, Warhol’s painting assistant at the time, said of Shadows' inception: “Andy had a burning desire to do abstract art… and I said, “You're Andy Warhol; you should paint something that is something, but it's not... you should paint shadows. You love shadows anyway. They're all in your work.”

To create the series, Warhol selected two photographs that were silkscreened over painted backgrounds featuring some of the artist’s favorite hues: aubergine, chartreuse, carmine red, yellow, midnight blue and white. The impasto texture (thick areas of paint) was achieved by applying the paint with a mop.

Beginning April 21, The Arts Club of Chicago will display 54 of the 76 x52 inch panels in the Shadows series—the first time a single installation of such a large number of the panels has been exhibited in Chicago. The entire Shadows series (102 panels) will be exhibited at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC this fall.

Shadows was acquired by the Dia Art Foundation from the artist in 1979 during its inaugural exhibition at the Heiner Friedrich gallery in New York. It has been on permanent view at Dia: Beacon, which is the Dia Art Foundation’s museum, located on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York.

Pop on over to The Arts Club of Chicago to check out the exhibit which is free and open to the public. 201 East Ontario, gallery hours: Monday through Friday 11:00 am-6:00pm.