Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

Solo en Inglès

“Andy's work really goes to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a human being and what our potential is…It's the real deal.” —Jeff Koons

Hear from a range of contemporary artists, curators, and scholars speaking about iconic works on view. Contributors include Jeff Koons, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Kass, Peter Halley, Sasha Wortzel, and Richard Meyer.

Mustard Race Riot, 1963

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Narrator: Warhol based Mustard Race Riot on three different images by the photographer Charles Moore, which were taken in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 and published in Life magazine. The original images show a protester being attacked by an all-white police force during a peaceful civil rights demonstration. Describing the original photos in a 2005 interview, Moore explained “I don’t want to fight with my fists. I want to fight with my camera.”

Artist Hank Willis Thomas.

Hank Willis Thomas: I think the title, Race Riot, is maybe somewhat of a misnomer for the work, because a race riot is different than a civil rights protest, but the tension is kind of heightened there, and I think, when you see a police dog attacking an unarmed person, maybe the title, Race Riot, takes on a new meaning.

I have my own fifty year, almost sixty years later, interpretation, of these images. I think of them more as postcards to the future, knowing that, when you call something art, it allows people to think differently about things they already know. Charles Moore's image, as a photographic document, and historical document, and news document, had one function, but it circulates very differently and, some might say, on a longer timeline, in the fine art world, where objects are made and preserved for hundreds of years.

Somehow, by Warhol making them his art, they've become more iconic and, in some ways, more important. I do feel like we often miss some meaning, because he didn't put too much information about his intentions, but also maybe that puts the onus on the viewers and the people who come from different generations to look more closely at them.

An image of a race riot printed on yellow canvas.

Narrator: Warhol based Mustard Race Riot on three different images by the photographer Charles Moore, which were taken in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 and published in Life magazine. The original images show a protester being attacked by an all-white police force during a peaceful civil rights demonstration. Describing the original photos in a 2005 interview, Moore explained “I don’t want to fight with my fists. I want to fight with my camera.”

Artist Hank Willis Thomas.

Hank Willis Thomas: I think the title, Race Riot, is maybe somewhat of a misnomer for the work, because a race riot is different than a civil rights protest, but the tension is kind of heightened there, and I think, when you see a police dog attacking an unarmed person, maybe the title, Race Riot, takes on a new meaning.

I have my own fifty year, almost sixty years later, interpretation, of these images. I think of them more as postcards to the future, knowing that, when you call something art, it allows people to think differently about things they already know. Charles Moore's image, as a photographic document, and historical document, and news document, had one function, but it circulates very differently and, some might say, on a longer timeline, in the fine art world, where objects are made and preserved for hundreds of years.

Somehow, by Warhol making them his art, they've become more iconic and, in some ways, more important. I do feel like we often miss some meaning, because he didn't put too much information about his intentions, but also maybe that puts the onus on the viewers and the people who come from different generations to look more closely at them.


Andy Warhol, Mustard Race Riot, 1963. Silkscreen ink, acrylic, and graphite on canvas, two panels: 9 ft. 5 7⁄8 in. × 13 ft. 8 in. (2.89 × 4.17 m) overall. Museum Brandhorst, Munich. © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York