With Andy Warhol 1968
Text: Olle Granath
Sometime in the autumn of 1967, Pontus Hultén called and asked me if I could help him and the Moderna Museet to organize an Andy Warhol exhibition that was due to open in February. Such were the production schedules in those days. Considering what the Moderna Museet had achieved in its ten years, the number of staff was incredibly small and definitely not sufficient to create an extensive production involving a lot of time-consuming practical work.
The exhibition had been designed by a team, which, in addition to Warhol himself, consisted of Pontus, Billy Klüver, and Kasper König. One of the basic themes was repetition; there were to be many works and few motifs: Marilyn Monroe, flowers, the electric chair, Brillo boxes, wallpapers with red cows on a yellow background, the helium-filled balloons of metallic plastic film called Clouds, and short loops of some of his most famous films, such as Sleep, Eat, and Empire State. The film loops were to be shown on daylight screens alongside the paintings as if they were moving paintings. An important part of the exhibition was the production of a book. It was not supposed to be an analytical catalog of Warhol’s work, but a book that conveyed his aesthetics without heavy texts.
There were numerous practical problems. The cow wallpaper was to cover the main west-facing façade of the museum building. How to put it up? After several experiments with various materials and many consultations, we reached the decision that the best way was to erect some ordinary scaffolding in front of the façade, on which standard- sized Masonite boards were attached. The ‘wallpapering’ was done by the painters regularly employed by the museum. When the wallpapering was finished, two and a half cows remained.
The yardstick had obviously worked. The wallpaper on the façade glowed. In the defoliated early spring, the cows could be seen from as far away as Slussen.
Infatable plastic clouds at the grand opening of Warhol's retrospective at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm 1968.
Photo: Bror H. Gustavsson
Photos from left to right: Self-Portrait, 1984, Self-Portrait, 1977, Self-Portrait in Drag, 1980. Founding Collection The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Brillo Soap Pads Boxes at Warhol´s retrospective at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1968.
Photograph by Nils-Göran Hökby
is a former director of the Moderna Museet and now the permanent secretary of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, both in Stockholm, Sweden.