Vv Magazine’s West Coast Editor Alexandra Gill goes all Factory Girl exploring Andy Warhol’s latest Vancouver exhibit, “A Different Idea of Love”…
“Warhol: A Different Idea of Love” is the largest collection of Andy Warhol prints and paintings to ever come to Canada. On view in Vancouver until March 30 at 1280 Homer St., Vancouver (admission is free 11am to 6pm, Monday thru Saturday at the AI Projects space), the free pop-up exhibit is comprised of 85 prints and 20 paintings from the private Revolver collection in Beverly Hills, with support from MAISON AI, Christie’s, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. All works are available for purchase. We spoke to Revolver owner Ron Rivlin, a Canadian-born talent agent (president of Coast II Coast Entertainment Inc.) and nightclub owner (The Hudson), about his passion for the Pope of Pop.
Vv Magazine: You’re a talent manager who has worked with the likes of the RUN DMC and Louie Vega. In recent years, you’ve become one of the largest Warhol collectors in the world. What’s the connection?
Ron Rivlin: I’ve always been attracted to the arts in general. Warhol is pop culture. My music clients are pop culture. I’ve just naturally gravitated to pop culture. Living in Los Angeles, it comes naturally.
What is about Warhol’s work that you enjoy?
I like it because it’s not very multi-dimensional. What you see is what you get. The work isn’t open to much interpretation. I like his bold colours. Aesthetically, it’s pleasing to my eyes. It’s very much like collecting cards or stamps or coins. He did such a vast amount of work. They can be collected to your heart’s desire.
The last Warhol exhibit in Vancouver was “Andy Warhol: Prints and Drawings from the Warhol Museum,” which opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2004. The show was very academic, with a focus on Warhol’s early fashion advertising drawings to offer insight into his transformation from commercial illustrator to fine art pop artist. This collection, with all its bold colours, celebrity portraits, and iconic soup cans, feels very different, more playful. Are you not interested in his early work?
No, I’m not. It’s part of his story, but they don’t do much for me. We don’t carry any of his works from the 50s because we find they’re not as relevant to people today. Aesthetically, those works just aren’t very popular. And they’re also difficult to authenticate. He did lithographs in those days. With today’s technologies, they can be copied be very easily. There are a lot of fakes from that era. But paramount to that, I just don’t like them.
So they’re not as valuable to a commercial collector such as yourself?
True. But I came to it from a passionate place, not a capitalist place. Most of the works make their way through my house. I like to enjoy them for a month or maybe just a day, and then I bring them back to the gallery. When they sell, I reinvest the money and buy new Warhols.
So the art is as disposable as a soup can?
Exactly. I am a collector, but I am also a gallerist. Gallerists don’t usually collect the works they sell. I’m never disappointed when I don’t sell. I’m more disappointed when I do. But then I buy something new and get over it.
It sounds like you’re a pop art connoisseur in the purest sense — someone who rejects the serious art world’s snobbery and embraces the pop movement’s fresh, risky, punk rock ethos. Do you think Warhol has been overly intellectualized?
Warhol was a mystery to a lot of people. He wasn’t a man of too many words. People had a tough time gauging how sophisticated he was. Art critic Robert Hughes said he was the dumbest person he ever met. Others say he was very calculated, he just didn’t wear it on his sleeve.
Will you some day dispose of Warhol and move onto another artist?
I don’t think so. When you have a deep passion for something it’s hard to lose that over time. It’s different with personal relationships. You can meet someone and fall in love. But later, when you see their true colours, it’s no longer the same person. With a music act or a visual artist, you know the facts. There’s not as much room for deception. That’s what I love about Warhol. Everyone knows his story. Everyone knows the controversies. It wasn’t even him pulling the screens. It may have been his creativity, but he had printers who mass-produced his works. That was all forgiven. The people who collect him don’t care.
If you were going to compare Warhol to a musical act, which would it be?
Huh. Funny, the one act that comes to mind is not my favourite band in the world so I hope it doesn’t cast a bad light on Warhol. But it would have to be the B52s. They’re so poppy and bright.
What are some of your favourite Warhol pieces from “A Different Idea of Love”? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.