PaperCity Magazine

December 2018- Houston

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ART STORIES O ne of the best shows of the year in Houston is a sleeper. You've never heard of the artist, and his exhibition marks a departure for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, which usually presents work by living talents. Cue "Nicolas Moufarrege: Recognize My Sign" (through February 17, 2019). In 2008, CAMH curator Dean Daderko organized an exhibition featuring the Egyptian-born, Beirut-educated artist (1947-1985) for Visual AIDS in NYC. For the CAMH show, he digs deep into the estate of the late Moufarrege, who held undergraduate and grad degrees in chemistry. The CAMH retrospective presents one of the epiphanies that altered the artist's trajectory from science to textiles: the ornate embroidered patch he crafted in 1969 or 1970 for a pair of blue jeans. The chemistry student on a Fulbright Grant at Harvard plunged into the art world and worked as a curator and writer in the burgeoning East Village scene of the early '80s, where his pals included Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy, and David Wojnarowicz. A victim of AIDS, he left behind a scant decade of work. Daderko collaborated with the artist's estate — his family resides in Shreveport — to cull nearly 40 tapestries and works on canvas, as well as ephemera. These highly original global works read like graphic novels, with hefty doses of appropriation via art history, manifestos of queer life, and gorgeous displays of embroidery and beading, all hand-done by Moufarrege himself. With witty asides to Pop (especially Lichtenstein), modernism, the Rococo era, Japanese woodblocks, and Arabic ornamentation and calligraphy, the artist overcomes any mere craft reading of his subversive textiles. Watch for his own embroidered appearance, in the role of Santa Claus — a sly nod to his first name. The show travels to the Queens Museum, New York, next, with rumors of a European tour. Catherine D. Anspon GONE GLOBAL: POP TAPESTRIES Nicolas Moufarrege's Title unknown, 1984, at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston POP KING ENSHRINED AT THE WHITNEY I t's billed as the most impressive survey in America ever for the favorite son of Pittsburgh: the Whitney Museum of American Art's blockbuster "Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again." More than 350 works comprise this definitive look at a Pop master who was so much more than that — an ambitious retrospective that's also the most expansive exhibition ever mounted by the Whitney in its new home. Beyond his canvases of Campbell's Soup cans, big Brillo box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Warhol's prowess included innovative filmmaking, paving the way for the generation of video artists to follow, and heading a media empire spun around the cult of fame and celebrity (Interview magazine). As the 20th century's greatest history painter, he recorded the stories that defined our times: plucking newsmakers from daily headlines, from the prosaic middle- class housewife who died from eating a tainted can of tuna fish to iconic events and people who impacted U.S. history, such as race riots in the South, an electric chair awaiting its next occupant, and a veiled, grieving Jackie Kennedy at JFK's funeral. Whitney deputy director/senior curator Donna De Salvo — a Warhol authority — rolls out this roaring look at Warhol, beginning in 1948 through work from the 1970s and 1980s that is being reconsidered, including final masterpieces such as Camouflage Last Supper. Films also screen, the well-known as well as rarities — in the Whitney theater as well as a black-box space adjoining rooms packed with paintings. Exhibition highlights include a gallery devoted to 75 portraits, hung salon style in a grid — vibrant visages of those who define celebrity across many disciplines: Muhammad Ali, Liza Minnelli, Leo Castelli, Halston, Chris Evert, and Tina Chow, alongside the artist's mom, Julia Warhola. Another special installation arrays 40 Flower paintings against a wall plastered with Warhol's Cow Wallpaper. The sole question Houston and Dallas viewers may ponder when they visit Warhol at the Whitney: Why can't this show travel to Texas? Its only venues outside NYC are SFMOMA and the Art Institute of Chicago, where the exhibition wraps in January 2020. Intriguingly, Texas collectors Paul and Gayle Stoffel and Mathew and Ann Wolf are among the exhibition underwriters, while Houston's Brown Foundation, Inc., has stepped up as one of seven top funders. Though March 31, 2019; Catherine D. Anspon THE APOTHEOSIS OF ANDY Right: Andy Warhol's Truman Capote, 1979, at the Whitney Museum of American Art COURTESY NABIL MOUFFAREJ AND GUINAR "NOUNA" MUFARRIJ, SHREVEPORT, LA THE ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM, PITTSBURGH. © THE ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS, INC. / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS) NEW YORK.

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