Warhol “Shot Marilyn” on display for one more week at Milan exhibition

Having worked for five years at a news agency where your success, or lack thereof, is measured not in minutes, but rather seconds, I know what it means to get the news out fast. I’ve been on the receiving end of verbal barrages from the big guys asking why my story was published a minute or two later than the competition. Sounds ridiculous, perhaps impossible, but that is indeed how life is for most people working at news agencies, which goes a long way towards explaining why I jumped ship years ago.

Since leaving Bloomberg, the agency where I received those verbal poundings, I’ve written mostly for newspapers where they don’t measure you by the second, but where you’ll on occasion get an editor who decides an hour before deadline that she wants a 750-word story.

This trip down my work experience memory lane is but a bid to give me a bit of credibility when I say I know what a deadline is and the importance of getting news out fast. And yet…I’m about to give you some information on an Andy Warhol exhibition at Milan’s Palazzo Reale that has been running for four months.

Andy Warhol's words of inspiration

Andy Warhol’s words of inspiration

Whoops, I’m a little late, mea culpa. That said, there is still a week to go see it if you are so inclined, and you should be.

The exhibition, called simply “Warhol”, which is either a sign of his universal appeal or the lack of imagination on the part of the organizers (perhaps both?), is exactly what you would expect. Marilyn painting, Mao lithograph and a Campbell’s soup can thrown in there, Coke bottles and so on. But Marilyn is Marilyn and Marilyn done by Warhol is without peers making this an excellent exhibition for the Warhol novice and expert alike.

And at the exhibit there is not just any Warhol Marilyn, but one of his four Shot Marilyns. The story of these paintings is incredible and to be honest hard to believe. It sounds like a publicity stunt from 50 years ago, but the story is lovely and it is a small window onto the English language. I’m going to quote here from the Wikipedia page:

The Shot Marilyns is a work of art produced in 1964 by Andy Warhol. It consists of four canvases, each a square measuring 40 inches and each consisting of a painting of a Marilyn Monroe, each shot through in the forehead by a single bullet. Warhol…stored them at The Factory, his studio on East 47th Street in Manhattan. Dorothy Podber (1932–2008), a friend of Factory photographer Billy Name, saw the recently completed paintings stacked against one another at the studio and asked Warhol if she could shoot them. Believing that she meant she wanted to photograph the paintings, Warhol agreed. Podber doffed her pair of white gloves, withdrew a small revolver from her purse, and fired a shot into the stack of four “Marilyn” paintings, which became known as The Shot Marilyns.

That painting, and that story, make a visit to the exhibition worthwhile, but there is much much more, all of it from the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut. The exhibition runs through March 9.

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