“It was incredible to think of it happening at an art opening. Even a Pop Art opening. But then, we weren’t just at the art exhibit—we were the art exhibit, we were the art incarnate.”—Andy Warhol
“That’s How We Escaped”: Reflections on Warhol illuminates a night on Penn’s campus that transformed an artist into a celebrity. A collaborative effort between University of Pennsylvania students in the Spiegel Contemporary Art Freshman Seminar and artist Alex Da Corte spotlights the night of October 8, 1965, the opening of Andy Warhol’s first solo museum show, held at ICA (then located in the Fisher Fine Arts Library). Through a marriage of conceptual and archival elements, the show presents an interpretation of what was arguably the turning point of Warhol’s career. It features 24 works, including photographs from the night itself, and an installation by Da Corte reconceptualizing the staircase by which Warhol and his entourage escaped from the crowd, into the night, and on to superstardom. “That’s How We Escaped”: Reflections on Warhol is on view in ICA’s Project Space April 21–August 7, 2011.
The 1965 exhibition was not only a crucial moment in Warhol’s career, it also marks a turning point in the history of contemporary art, being perhaps the first time the persona of the exhibiting artist challenged the primacy of the works on display. The repercussions of this moment play out in various ways over the next half-century, giving rise to performance and media art, the ascendance of artist-celebrities such as Jeff Koons and Lady Gaga, and everybody’s fifteen minutes of fame by way of reality television.
Among the works on view are the original Campbell’s Soup invitation, a Campbell’s Soup can signed by the artist, an S&H Green Stamps invitation, an S&H Green Stamps blouse, photographs of the installation, and photographs of the event.