ListenIntroduction by Nicholas BaumeRob Pruitt and The Andy MonumentAndy Warhol and Union Square
Union Square is one of New York City’s most active social, cultural, and commercial centers. It is home to many well-known monuments, including statues of George Washington and Mahatma Gandhi. From 1968 to 1984 it was the location of Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he and his collaborators reinvented the conventional artist’s studio, producing silkscreen paintings, films, music, books, magazines, and more. With his Union Square Factory as a creative hub, Warhol became synonymous with the Downtown art scene.
Inspired by Warhol’s art and life, Rob Pruitt (b. 1964, Washington DC) created The Andy Monument as a tribute to the late artist. It stands on the street corner, just as Warhol did when he signed and gave away copies of Interview magazine. Pruitt’s sculpture adapts and transforms the familiar tradition of classical statuary. The figure is based on a combination of digital scanning of a live model and hand sculpting, its surface finished in chrome, mounted on a concrete pedestal. It depicts Warhol as a ghostly, silver presence: a potent cultural force as both artist and self-created myth. As Rob Pruitt observes, “Like so many other artists and performers and people who don’t fit in because they’re gay or otherwise different, Andy moved here to become who he was, to fulfill his dreams and make it big. He still represents that courage and that possibility. That’s why I came to New York, and that’s what my Andy Monument is about.”
This exhibition is curated by Nicholas Baume.
Major support provided by Con Edison, Rebecca & Marty Eisenberg, Katherine Farley & Jerry I. Speyer, and Holly & Jonathan Lipton.
Additional support from Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Made possible through the cooperation of the Union Square Partnership and the New York City Department of Transportation.
Special thanks to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris; Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin; New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn; and Jennifer E. Falk, Executive Director, Union Square Partnership.
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Rob Pruitt’s (b. Washington D.C., 1964) work is rooted in a pop sensibility and a playful critique of art world structures. His conceptual projects have included performance-based artworks like his recent Art Awards, presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2009, 2010) and modeled after Hollywood awards ceremonies, as well as simple gestures that promote possibilities for creativity in everyday life, as demonstrated in the series 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself (2001). From his glittering paintings of panda bears and sculptural formations of blue jeans to his operative flea markets, Pruitt’s work is always characterized by an incisive humor and exuberant visual flair.
Discussing The Andy Monument, Pruitt explains, “New York itself, an international epicenter of artistic and cultural production, stands as a monument to Andy Warhol. Every day a thousand more kids come to New York propelled by his legacy. And even if the decades pass and Warhol's legacy becomes further distant, there is a direct link to him – this pilgrimage, coming here to make it big, to be an artist. Like Oscar Wilde's grave at Père Lachaise, there should be a destination in New York to mark that journey. I think something needs to be in the streets of New York, something you could visit at 4:30 in the morning. The final nod to [Union Square’s] history and its heritage should be marked with the likeness of the man who personified a new way of making art and making culture – a sculptural icon for the aspiring generations that New York City, and especially Union Square, continues to draw.”
• Warhol’s first home and factory (1342 Lexington Avenue)
• The Factory 1963–1967 (231 East 47th Street)
• Factory 1967–1973 (33 Union Square West, 6th Floor)
• Factory 1973–1984 (860 Broadway)
• Factory 1984–1987 (22 E 33rd Street)
• Warhol’s last home (57 E 66th Street)
• Warhol’s last personal studio (158 Madison Avenue)
• Stable Gallery: hosted Warhol’s first New York solo pop exhibit. (West 58th Street)
• Leo Castelli Gallery: where Warhol was represented beginning in the early 60s. (4 E 77th Street)
• Serendipity III: the sweets shop where Warhol went regularly before he became well-know and paid for dinner with drawings. (225 E 60th Street)
• Max’s Kansas City: a nightspot including Max's Back Room which became Warhol’s very own social club where he and his cohorts created a notorious social scene that came to define the 70's. (213 Park Avenue South)
• Studio 54: where Warhol was known to hang out with other celebrities. (225 W 54th Street)
• Café au Go Go: where Warhol premiered his film HARLOT on January 10, 1965. (152 Bleecker Street)
• Hotel Chelsea: where Warhol and Paul Morrisey directed Chelsea Girls in 1966, a film about Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel. (222 West 23rd Street)
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