Beijing’s UCCA Broke Records With Its Blockbuster Picasso Show. It Wants to Do the Same With the Largest-Ever Andy Warhol Survey in China

The show is the “most comprehensive exhibition by Andy Warhol staged to date in China.” 

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (1978). Courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

Last year, the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing smashed attendance records with its blockbuster Picasso retrospective, capitalizing on the simple fact that a major museum survey dedicated to the artist had never been staged in mainland China. 

Now, the museum is aiming to cash in with a major survey of another ubiquitous Western master: Andy Warhol. 

Next summer, UCCA plans to present the “most comprehensive exhibition by Andy Warhol staged to date in China.” The show, simply titled “Andy Warhol,” will present more than 200 paintings, prints, drawings, films, and photographs by the artist, as well as archival materials framed to illustrate his trajectory from a child in Pittsburgh to the king of the New York art world.  

“We found in doing the Picasso show that the public here is extremely receptive not only to major figures, but to exhibitions that tell stories of artistic formation, development, and experimentation—shows that answer the question ‘Who is this figure, what did they do, and why are they considered so important?’” UCCA director Philip Tinari tells Artnet News.

“The Picasso show proved that while living artists may be at the core of our program, there is also room for us to present key figures from global art history,” he adds. “In a context where there are not public museums permanently showing this kind of work, exhibitions like these serve an important educational role.”

The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Courtesy of the Office for Metropolian Architecture. Photo: by Bian Jie.

The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Courtesy of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Photo by Bian Jie.

Jose Carlos Diaz and Patrick Moore, the chief curator and director, respectively, of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, organized the show and loaned all of the materials headed to Beijing. (Diaz declined to say whether the Warhol Museum is being compensated for the loans from its collection.)

“This is an opportunity to curate an exhibition that explores the artist, his work, and the various areas of his practice highlighting a large quantity of popular artwork alongside rare items that have never been displayed abroad and allow us to tell a detailed exhibition about the artist,” Diaz says. He points to one section of the show devoted to Warhol’s work as a “serious photographer parallel to his lucrative celebrity portrait commissions” as one such example.  

Tinari says that he’s been in touch with Diaz and Moore about the show since 2018 and visited the US museum in August of 2019. The director also says that Warhol’s famous 1973 screen prints of Mao Zedong were never in discussion for the exhibition. “The focus of the show was always on lesser known works and a narrative of Warhol’s development that informed by current scholarship,” he says.  

“Andy Warhol” goes on view July 3 – October 10, 2021 in Beijing before traveling to the UCCA Edge in Shanghai in November.

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