Andy Warhol proves top of the pops in Sheffield

Anthony d'Offay with a exhibit in Museums Sheffield's new exhibition at the Graves Gallery, Andy Warhol: Late Self-Portraits   See Story Nick Ahad   Picture by Chris Lawton'3rd April  2012
Anthony d'Offay with a exhibit in Museums Sheffield's new exhibition at the Graves Gallery, Andy Warhol: Late Self-Portraits See Story Nick Ahad Picture by Chris Lawton'3rd April 2012

AN exhibition celebrating American pop artist Andy Warhol has proved a hit with Sheffield art lovers.

Andy Warhol: Late Self Portraits, which ends a seven-month run at the Graves Gallery on Saturday, has already clocked up more than double the number of visitors from the corresponding period last year.

“It shows there is a great passion for art and that there is definitely an appetite for new things to be brought to Sheffield, proved by the way people are prepared to go up flights of stairs to reach the Graves where they know they will see great art,” said Kim Streets, chief executive of Museums Sheffield.

This exhibition of self-portraits, from the late Seventies to his death in 1987, reveals the many faces of the famous artist. The images were complemented by a sound installation, The Search for Andy Warhol’s Voice featuring a series of audio recordings by art historian Jean Wainwright of Warhol’s family and close friends talking about the artist’s childhood, relationships and approach to his work. The recordings can be heard through old cassette players which date back to the Warhol era,

“That has brought an extra dimension to the exhibition and allowed people to understand the artist even better,” said the chief executive.

“We’ve had some great feedback,“ she added, including one visitor who wrote: “Here from New York City. Spent 4 hours listening to the tapes”

With the Graves Gallery recently under threat from budget cuts, more gratifying for Museums Sheffield were testimonies such as: “Fantastic exhibition yet again at the Graves Gallery – Sheffield’s hidden gem!” and “Very lucky to have such an exhibition here in Sheffield”

As of last Saturday, Andy Warhol: Late Self Portraits had received 26,141 visitors compared with 15,498 between April and November last year, almost a 60% increase.

Chris Harvey, Museums Sheffield Communications Officer, pointed out that a true comparison came from the daily visitor average as previous exhibitions ran for differing lengths and opening times. Andy Warhol: Late Self-Portraits clocked up (literally, visitors are clicked in by an attendant) 201 average visitors. It has been the most popular at the Graves since 2009’s Robert Mapplethorpe which achieved 233 visitors per day –(helped by the publicity generated by a visit from American singer Patti Smith and her book about her friendship with Mapplethorpe)).

Both were part of the Artists Room scheme which tours pieces from the collection donated to the nation by the Sheffield-born art dealer Anthony d’Offay.

Said Streets: “Artists Rooms is a great resource and it’s been wonderful working with Anthony to put on these exhibitions. We know they have to be shared around the country but it’s been good to show Sheffield appreciates it and that we would like more in the future.”