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Artists Past & Present:

Raid the Icebox  

Gallery View,
Installation of Windsor Chairs, from Raid the Icebox with Andy Warhol, Exhibition at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design,
April 23 - June 30, 1970


Andy Warhol: Raid the Icebox

Featured in: Artists Who Collect

While Andy Warhol created the Time Capsules as both a personal and professional collection, he was also interested in institutional collecting. In 1970 Warhol revolutionized art exhibition practices with Raid the Icebox. The title of the show was a pun referring to many museums’ cold storage areas, filled with objects the public does not see. Drawing from the collection of the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, Warhol, as artist/curator, created a thoroughly unconventional set of displays. He placed paintings on the floor leaning against walls stacked two and three deep, while shoes were exhibited in mass in a large cabinet meant to be viewed and touched as if in a person’s own closet. This radical form of exhibition broke institutional rules about the display and value of certain objects over others.

In many natural history museums, exhibitions about native or foreign cultures give attention to all kinds of objects, from mundane and utilitarian items to sacred and art objects. Conversely, most western art museums, much like the “Cabinets of Curiosities” from the 16th Century, only show the highest-quality art or the most beautiful examples of "man's creations." Andy Warhol wanted to elevate the lowly objects within the storage of RISD’s art museum to a higher status. A good example of this reversal is Warhol’s installation of lesser-quality Windsor chairs, which were used by the museum as spare parts to mend the better chairs in their collection. Under Warhol’s curation they hung on the walls like master paintings. In the same way, he pulled out the museum’s extensive costume collection and displayed the fashions of culture along with the art.

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Collecting

Comprehension Questions:

  1. What institutional rules was Andy Warhol breaking?
  2. Why did Warhol break these rules?
  3. What idea was he interested in showing the audiences of Raid the Icebox?

 

 

 

 

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