Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei and Kids Installation: Studio Cats at the NGV International

The major international exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei is opening in Melbourne in a couple of weeks at the National Gallery of Victoria and I have been waiting all year to see it! Little Miss on the other hand is looking forward to the kids' installation Studio Cat: Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei for Kids.

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The main exhibition will explore the significant influence of these two exemplary artists on modern art and contemporary life, focussing on the parallels and intersections between the two artists’ practices. 

Last week, the NGV shared a first look at the exhibition with the installation of Andy Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper (Pink on Yellow) 1966 and things are looking very colourful already!

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The exhibition will feature over 300 works by both artists including major new commissions, immersive installations and a wide representation of painting, sculpture, film, photography, publishing and social media. Warhol's celebrated works Campbell’s Soup, Electric Chair, Mao, Elvis, Flowers and celebrity portraits will also be featured. A suite of major commissions by Ai Weiwei will also be premiered alongside his key works from the past four decades.

For more information about the main exhibition and to book tickets go to their website.

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To coincide with the main exhibition, NGV Kids will present a large-scale installation especially for children and families which highlights both artists’ love of cats. Cats have held a strong presence in the homes, studios and lives of both artists. In the 1950s Warhol lived with a herd of more than twenty Siamese cats, all of whom, except for one, were named Sam. Warhol’s fondness for cats was captured in his early career ink-blot drawings and photography, as well as in books, posters and films. In Ai Weiwei’s studio over thirty cats have free reign and frequently appear in the artist’s social media and blog posts, as well as the artist’s interviews and reflections.

Highlights of the Studio Cats exhibition include artworks such as a wallpaper created by Ai Weiwei; Andy Warhol’s Fish Wallpaper 1983 making a playful reference to cats’ enjoyment of fish; a screening of 258 Cats by Hosen Tandijono filmed at Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing; a suite of photographic portraits of Andy Warhol interacting with his cats by photographer Edward Wallowitch and a display of original works on paper created for Andy Warhol’s small press publications 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy (c.1950) and Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother (1960).

  So Happy, 1950s

So Happy, 1950s

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These works will be complemented by a range of fun & interactive hands-on cat-themed activities for children and families to gain insight into the creative practices of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei and the role of cats in their art and lives. In the exhibition space, children will be able to create their own cat tributes by generating cat memes using clever captions alongside these images of Ai's cats, in a new multimedia activity.

Visitors can create a video self-portrait inspired by Andy Warhol's silkscreen portraits of celebrities and friends and pose for the camera themselves to create Warhol-inspired videos that can be shared with family and friends. These videos will feature a surprise cartoon cat who pops up in the shots for all to see.

For young children, an activity has been developed which references Warhol’s early 1960s sculptures of packaging boxes. In this installation children can create their own stacks of American household packaging boxes of the era such as Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup. 

In a mini theatre, children can enjoy a short film on the big screen starring a cast of cats that tells the tale of the two artists and view Hosen Tandijono’s film 258 Cats, which was filmed at Ai’s studio in Beijing. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a new NGV Kids publication, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei: An Art Book for Kids. Through stories, interesting facts, artwork images and illustrations, the publication explores the artists’ shared passions, artistic practices and mutual love of cats. The book also features creative activities for children to try, which have been inspired by both artists’ unconventional approaches to art.

Little Miss and I are huge fans of cats (having a few cats of our own), so we are looking forward to this installation! Entry into the Studio Cats will be FREE of charge.

  Cat in front of church, c. 1959

Cat in front of church, c. 1959

Notes: All photos featured in this post are courtesy of the NGV.