As he became a celebrity artist, Warhol maintained some of his Catholic practices while his peers removed themselves from religion.
A new exhibition in his hometown of Pittsburgh looks at the celebrated artist’s spiritual side — and, most importantly, his Catholic faith:
The last time the Andy Warhol Museum examined the Pop artist’s Catholic upbringing was in 2007, with “Personal Jesus: The Religious Art of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol,” which explored religious iconography in both artists’ work.
But, The Warhol has never dedicated an entire exhibition solely to Warhol’s Catholicism. That is, until now, says José Carlos Diaz, chief curator at The Andy Warhol Museum.
“It was really important for us to really showcase the importance of Warhol’s Catholic upbringing and how it sort of represented visually through his art from childhood all the way through his death,” Diaz says.
The museum explores Warhol’s relationship with religion in its newest exhibition, “Andy Warhol: Revelation,” the first exhibition to comprehensively examine the pop artist’s complex Catholic faith in relation to his artistic production.
Running from Oct. 20 to February 16, 2020, the exhibit features more than 100 objects— archival materials, drawings, paintings, prints and film—that intimately look at this facet of Warhol’s life.
Andy Warhol was born into a devout Byzantine Catholic family, attending multiple weekly services at Saint John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church with his mother, Julia Warhola. Growing up in Greenfield—home to Pittsburgh’s Carpatho-Rusyn community—life revolved around the church.
As he became a celebrity artist, Warhol maintained some of his Catholic practices while his peers removed themselves from religion. However, as a queer man, Warhol may have felt a sense of fear and guilt from the Catholic Church, which prevented him from fully engaging in his faith.
He explored some of this tension through his art. Warhol reframed styles and symbols of Eastern and Western Catholic art history through the lens of Pop, creating iconic portraits of celebrities and appropriating Renaissance works, blurring the lines between kitsch, mundane and sacred high art.