new-york

Andy Warhol

Gagosian Gallery

Late work is not always great work—a truism that scholarly opinion and auction prices generally bear out. Andy Warhol, who died in 1987 at the age of 58, never really got to his own late period, although we now regard his paintings of the ’80s as such by default. By that time his reputation was already tarnished by his production of art for schlocky galleries, and by a stream of arguably undiscriminating society portraits. Yet while the art establishment may have raised an eyebrow over Warhol’s “slumming” (don’t forget his appearance on The Love Boat), his genius was never really in doubt. His brilliance was particularly apparent in the paintings that set out to startle, offend, or even mystify the viewer. His interrogations of mass culture were spectacularly lurid and practically clairvoyant, but the undertow of death that tugged at so many of his subjects—from glamour girls to car wrecks

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