Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a beautiful city. But until this past weekend, despite being a born and raised Pennsylvanian, I didn’t know a single thing about it. Except, of course, that my best friend from high school attends University of Pittsburgh there. After an entire year and a summer of living almost 350 miles apart from one another, the opportunity finally arose to travel across the (annoyingly) expansive state of Pennsylvania and visit her!
One of the highlights of the trip, besides seeing my best friend and catching up with her, of course, was the Andy Warhol museum. I am slightly ashamed to say that prior to this weekend, I did not know much about Andy Warhol’s art besides his screen-printed portraits and the Campbell’s soup can designs despite being a fan of art museums and having taken multiple art history classes, both at Rutgers and another university. This weekend, I learned that Andy Warhol actually created art in so many different mediums that I can’t even begin to count them.
To me, the most interesting part of the museum’s collection was the set of illustrated books that Warhol created. Although he definitely drew inspiration from children’s books, he did not necessarily create them for children. They were relatively simple, with minimalistic line drawings to illustrate what was expressed with about five words per page. In a similar vein, there was a collection of simple drawings of cats that were not a part of the books, but were created in a similar style. These illustrations caught my eye because cats, but also because they were so adorably plain.
At first, the illustrations and the cat drawings seemed to be completely different from the work of Warhol’s that I had knowledge of prior to my visit. However, on second thought, they really were comparable to his well known screen-printed portraits. Most of the qualities overlapped: simple lines, absurd and unrealistic colors (in some cases), and living subjects. It just goes to show how an artist’s work can be so varied, but still unique in subject and style to that particular artist.
I also really enjoyed learning about the experimental forms of art that Warhol created. One of the rooms was an installment entitled, “Silver Clouds.” The artwork was nothing more than a normal room, with very large rectangular silver balloons that were floating up and down and back and forth on the gentle air currents being produced in the room.
Another room that I ended up spending a significant amount of time in paired the rock music of some of the bands that Warhol designed album covers for with twelve or thirteen different short films. All were projects in different places on the walls of the room. At first, this room seemed like total sensory overload, but after a short period of time, I realized how in sync all of the videos were with the music. It was loud and overwhelming, but also strangely logical and ordered.
Outside of the Andy Warhol museum, Pittsburgh was a great city, although I do have to admit that I’m glad to be back in New Brunswick, even if the only reason is for it’s incredible pizza and bagels.