Andy Warhol Gets Gangster in Queens

Andy Warhol Gets Gangster in Queens

To mark the semicentennial anniversary of the demise of one of Andy Warhol’s most notorious series, the Queens Museum will be presenting “13 Most Wanted Men: Andy Warhol and the 1964 World’s Fair.”

Almost 50 years ago to this day, Warhol was set to take part in the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens New York. As one of the artists participating in the public open call, Warhol sought out to utilize a method of production that has since become synonymous with his name, screen-printing. Making use of a 1962 NYPD “most wanted” booklet, Warhol used the mugshots of 13 of NYC’s most wanted and threw them up on the side of the New York State Pavilion.

Warhol Screenprint from his 1964 13 Most Wanted Men Series at The World's Fair 1964 in Queens

Just like most authorities react to throwies of any nature, Warhol’s work got buffed. The World’s Fair organizers, as well as some notable NY politicians, felt the exhibit was disrespectful, and doused the screen-printed portraits in silver paint before the events attendees could even check out his work.

Warhol would later go on to produce a smaller run of the “Most Wanted Men” using the same screens that had been used to create the original series for NYC’s World’s Fair, nine of which will be on display as part of the Queens Museum exhibit.

The Queens Museum had this to say about the exhibit:

The exhibition takes Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men as its single subject, addressing its creation and destruction and placing it in its artistic and social context by combining art, documentation, and archival material. Parallel to the striking, somber Men canvases, materials in the exhibition are organized in strict chronological order so the viewer can appreciate the interrelations of underground and establishment; art, protest, and gay life; painting, sculpture, and film in a key year for Warhol; fine art and mainstream culture; and the lives and careers of the major players. A sampling of paintings and sculpture from that year; artists’ and photojournalists’ documentation of the Fair and of the Factory; and never-before-displayed materials from The Andy Warhol Museum archives

The exhibition opens on April 27 and will run until September 7.