A new exhibition at Cartersville’s Booth Western Art Museum near Atlanta explores Andy Warhol’s love of the American West through the art he made and the things he collected. Museum director and curator Seth Hopkins had long been fascinated by a set of Warhol prints in the museum’s permanent collection: the 14 images in Warhol’s 1986 portfolio Cowboys and Indians, one of the last projects Warhol completed before his death in 1987.
The show includes much of Warhol’s artistic output that touches on the West (including short video clips from the two Western films he made), but also some of the items he owned and collected: a few pair of the Lucchese cowboy boots he wore nearly every day of his adult life, his Roy Rogers alarm clock, the celebrity scrapbook from his childhood with autographed photos from Western stars, his Edward Curtis portraits, and several of the thousands of Native American artifacts he hoarded.
Warhol argued that there was no depth to anything he did: “”If you want to know about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am,” he famously said. “There’s nothing behind it.”
Nonetheless, an amazingly complicated and profound vision of the West emerges from the show: Warhol depicts a region that is beautiful, vast, contentious, dreamlike, glamorous, violent, and–in the end–incomprehensibly tragic.
Warhol and the West runs at the Booth Museum through December 31.