'Andy Warhol: Shadows' makes West Coast premiere at MOCA

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An Andy Warhol exhibition never seen on the West Coast is opening this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown.

Andy Warhol made soup cans and everyday objects into popular icons, and once said, "Art is what you can get away with." But during New York's club scene in the 1970s, Warhol tried something new. His dark work called "Shadows" went on exhibit in New York. Though it was a series of large panels, Warhol considered it one painting.

Now, "Andy Warhol: Shadows" is opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). MOCA Grand Avenue has cleared much of its exhibit space to make room for it. It has never been seen on the West Coast.

More importantly, this is only the second time that all 102 panels have been seen all together. MOCA Director Philippe Vergne says even Warhol himself never saw all 102 panels together.

Vergne said Warhol dreamed "Shadows" would one day hang at Studio 54. He called the work "Disco Rothko." It never hung in the famed nightclub. And wherever the pieces have traveled, Warhol left no instructions how to hang them.

"He didn't want to control the way they're installed," said Vergne.

The pieces are not numbered. They can be hung at random.

Each panel is the same photograph, reproduced in both positive and negative. It is silk-screened, then painted over. The photo itself? Warhol took a picture of his office lamp. What the artist saw in that lamp could change our opinion of him.

"Everybody thinks of Andy Warhol as a pop artist, as a fun artist," said the Vergne. "What goes under the superficial approach of the work, it's a very dark, very tragic portrait of Western culture."

"Andy Warhol: Shadows" runs September 20 through February 2 at MOCA, located at 250 South Grand Avenue.

For more information, visit moca.org

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