Warhol’s retrospective having just closed in Los Angeles, here are two shows, conveniently near one another, that provide New Yorkers a dose of their most famous artist. This is all top-notch material, but the exhibitions have dissimilar goals. Gagosian’s compensates for an omission in the retrospective, following New York Times reviewer Holland Cotter’s comment that “you might not recognize the queer artist in this retrospective” since it included none of Warhol’s representations of sex. Gagosian (until 2 November) fills this gap with rarely exhibited erotic male nude drawings from the 1950s, “Torso” and “Sex part” paintings and drawings (1977-82), as well as the famous abstract “Oxidation” and “Piss” paintings series (1978). C&M has assembled a scholarly show that seems to supplement, rather than respond to, the retrospective (until 7 December). These five paintings and about 25 works on paper were created in 1976 and 1977, when Warhol asked studio assistant Ronnie Cutrone to fetch him a hammer and sickle image to paint. As Cutrone reveals in his catalogue essay, the politically loaded hammer and sickle pictures he found in Communist bookstores were “too flat”, and he wound up photographing the tools themselves, purchased from a hardware store. The show examines Warhol’s approach to classic still life, and questions what this once-potent symbol means, now that Russia’s situation is changed. Look out for more Warhol still lifes—47 of them, to be exact—on view downtown, at Paul Kasmin’s Chelsea gallery in the exhibition “Andy Warhol still life drawing 1954-85” (20 November-11 January).
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Andy Warhol: hammer and sickle at C&M Arts. Andy Warhol: piss & sex paintings and drawings at Gagosian Gallery'