Warhol's look at 'Dream America' comes to Reno

In July of 1962, the Ferrus Art Gallery in Los Angeles held a gallery show for the new work of an up-and-coming artist.

His show consisted of renderings of Campbell's Soup cans. At the time, it was considered a disaster.

Today, those works by Andy Warhol are worth millions.

Considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century and compared with the likes of Picasso and Pollock, Warhol used celebrity and iconic images to highlight some of the biggest themes of pop culture.

Now, residents of Northern Nevada have the opportunity to see Warhol's work as the Nevada Museum of Art presents "Andy Warhol's Dream America: Screenprints from the Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation."

The exhibit runs through May 27 and includes more than 100 prints, including the images of Marilyn Monroe, screen prints of an electric chair, self-portraits as well as examples of the Campbell's Soup cans.

"Warhol changed the way the world looks at art," said Anne Wolfe, museum curator. "He blurred the line between high art and low art and introduced popularized and commercialized art into museums."

The prints are part of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation's collection of more than 4,700 pieces. The Warhol exhibit has been touring the country since 2004 and has been a part of 25 shows in more than 60 venues.

Collector Jordan Schnitzer said Warhol was fascinated with celebrity and icons, but also included themes of death and destruction throughout his art, even in the soup cans.

"Mass producing soup was the beginning of the feminist movement. For the first time, women weren't slaves to their kitchens all day cooking meals," Schnitzer said. "It signified the death of home-made meals and that way of life."

Schnitzer is the president of Harsch Investment Properties, a Portland-based real estate acquisition, development and management company.

Warhol also focused on the idea that reproducing images, even horrible or violent images, can lesson their impact.

"Look at the electric chair prints. It brings to light how reproducing images can desensitize people," Wolfe said.

Yet even when utilizing inanimate objects, Warhol found celebrity. The electric chair featured in his prints was the one used to kill the Rosenbergs.

Schnitzer said that by allowing the public to see the prints, he hopes one of the underlying messages from Warhol's works gets out.

"Art is not just in museums. It's all around us, even in the supermarket. Art is everywhere," Schnitzer said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

If you go

What: "Andy Warhol's Dream America"

When: 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours on Thursdays, through May 27

Where: Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., Reno

Price: $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors and free for NMA members.

INFO: 329-3333 or go to www.nevadaart.org

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