Thursday, October 2, 2014

London Art Studies and The Legacy of Andy Warhol

I had the pleasure of attending a London Art Studies course recently on The Legacy of Andy Warhol featuring lecturer Ben Street. For those of you who aren't familiar with London Art Studies, it's a fabulously fun way of learning about art, something I always want to know more about.

Courses at London Art Studies vary as do the lecturers, but each day event is held in a private room at Koffmann's in The Berkeley Hotel. Offering participants the opportunity to pick and choose, London Art Studies is the perfect way to indulge in a bit of art knowledge without an overwhelming commitment.

I've long been fascinated by Andy Warhol - his life, his art, his relationships with some of the most notable legends of our time (Bob Dylan, Edie Sedgwick & Dennis Hopper to name a few) and his unforgettable persona. When faced with the choice of which lecture to attend, for me it was a no-brainer, however if modern art doesn't appeal to you, a lecture on Rembrandt might be a better fit… There are plenty of options to choose from and many of them tie in with upcoming exhibitions in London.

The London Art Studies events begin with a relaxed cup of coffee or tea. Since the classes are limited to a maximum of 16 attendees, it's great to have the opportunity to get to know the other people you'll be learning with all day. Immediately following are the first and second lectures, with a coffee break in between. After the 2nd lecture is lunch at Koffmann's with a special menu created by the legendary Pierre Koffmann himself. The food is extraordinary and consists of a choice of three main courses, wine and a choice of three desserts with coffee or tea to finish. Following that is the shorter third lecture to wrap up the day.

Lecturer Ben Street obviously loves what he does and it shows when he talks about art - I could've stayed straight through the evening, learning and talking about all things Andy Warhol. Starting with his background and history in the first lecture, Street gave us an idea of how it all began for Warhol, primarily the things that happened in his childhood and early adult years that would later be prevalent in the themes of his work. We also delved into what was happening in the American art scene prior to Warhol's success and the Abstract Expressionism artists who rose to fame just prior to the emergence of Pop Art such as Jackson Pollock. In the second lecture, we learned about the more influential works of Warhol from Campbell's Soup Cans and Gold Marilyn to the Oxidation Paintings and his Death and Disaster Series. Having the background knowledge of Warhol's youth really brings his work to life - knowing where it comes from makes it all make sense.  Rounding out the day, the third lecture featured a selection of artists including Sherrie Levine, Barbara Kruger, Gavin Turk, Richard Prince and Damien Hirst, whose works take Warhol's influence one step further for a new generation.

I walked away from my day with London Art Studies feeling very satisfied with pages of notes and a thoughtful mind. The Legacy of Andy Warhol really made me think and it gave me the perfect conversation for dinner with my husband later that evening and over drinks or dinners with friends for weeks to come. I haven't seen any works by Warhol in person for quite some time, but I know that the next time I do I'll be seeing them through widened eyes. It's amazing how knowing a bit more about something opens it up and makes it new again.

Spending a day with London Art Studies is indeed a luxury, but also incredibly rewarding, not to mention worth every penny. I had nearly forgotten how much fun learning can be! No previous art knowledge is necessary to attend a course - all levels are encouraged. I'd definitely recommend London Art Studies lectures for anyone with a keen interest in art or as a gift for the person who has everything. All courses start at 10am and finish at 2pm. Places for Autumn term courses are available to book via Eventbrite and the cost is £175 per person. 

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