Andy Warhol at the Fleming

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(Host) Over the next four months, visitors to the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont will have a chance to see an extensive collection of work by Andy Warhol. Warhol gained attention in the ’60s and ’70s by blurring the line between commercial art and fine art.

VPR’s Patti Daniels gathered the impressions from the museum’s director and visitors to the exhibit for this audio montage:

(Janie Cohen) “I’m Janey Cohen, and I’m director of the Fleming Museum. I think that a lot of people have a sense of what Warhol’s work is like, what he was about. He, I think, attracts a lot of very positive feeling and a lot of very negative feeling.

“The one we borrowed from Whitney museum, it’s called the ‘Silver Marilyn.’ When Marilyn Monroe died, he was you know, he absolutely idolized her. So he went out and he got a press photo of her and that’s what he used for his Marilyn portraits. And when you look at it, it’s a mask. It’s absolutely how the Hollywood star presents herself to her public.

“And it’s very interesting when you look at all the different faces of Marilyn from the portfolio, each one gives you a very, very different feeling about her and really portrays a different aspect of her persona – whether it was glamour or tragedy or celebrity. This one, I think, is really one of the most tragic, just because of the coloration of it.”

(Exhibit visitor) “It’s very dark, you really accent the eyes and the lips – you’re really drawn to Marilyn’s main features the beauty mark. You always see Marilyn Monroe as happy, blond. This is definitely darker. It’s not the same Marilyn, almost.”

(Exhibit visitor) “It looks like it’s cast in an era in time. It looks like the ’60s now. And it looks like the pioneer of a lot of what we see today. But you know, this looks like a lot of what we see as the foundation of modern art today.”

(Visitor to the exhibit) “You know he was always in the middle of all this controversy – is it art, or is it… not? And I think that time has told us, looking back, that he was a great artist and way ahead of his time, and incredibly innovative.”

(Cohen) “What I really hope is that people will truly come away with a better understanding of what this guy was about, why he was important to American art, to 20th century art, to popular culture, what his role was. You know, they may come knowing that they don’t like his work and they may leave knowing that they don’t like his work. But to come away with better sense of what this guy was about, what his aims were, what the breadth of his art was.”

(Host) That was Fleming Museum Director Janie Cohen and visitors to the Andy Warhol exhibit discussing the portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe. The Warhol exhibit will be at the museum through June.

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