A Slovakian town claims Andy Warhol as their own(Read article summary)
Although famed pop culture artist Andy Warhol was born in the US, his mother's Slovakian hometown is happy to claim him as their own with a museum in his name.
â¢ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
âI come from nowhere,â Andy Warhol once famously quipped. But to the inhabitants of Medzilaborce in eastern Slovakia, where Warholâs mother was born and from which she emigrated in 1921, Warhol is a hometown boy. Not Andy Warhol, but Andy Warhola, originally written Varchola and a common name in the town registrar.
In 1991, following the fall of communism, Warholâs brother Paul made a trip to what was then Czechoslovakia and founded the Warhol Museum of Modern Art. Since then, there has been a new interest in Warholâs family roots and their influence on his art.
âEveryone in the West knows Andy Warhol Superstar,â says Warhol Museum director Michael Bycko. âBut do they know the other side of Andy?â Mr. Bycko, contests that Warhol never placed much stock in his familyâs rural roots and heritage. (Andy Warhol was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh.)
Among the artifacts presented in a recent Warhol exhibition, âAndy Warhol and Czechoslovakia,â at Pragueâs Dvorak Sec gallery, are recordings of Warholâs mother singing Ruthenian folk songs and her naive drawings, which bear an uncanny resemblance to Warholâs early illustrations and familiar screen prints. In addition there were some familiar screenprints which were presented in the context of the tradition of Orthodox icon painting â which surrounded Warhol as he grew up.
âAndy Warhol was a very religious man,â says Bycko. âDuring the last years of his life, he was very devout ... and began to paint icons. Andyâs first meeting with art was through Ruthenian icons, which decorated the bedroom of his mother, Julia. That flat style of painting, the idea of serial production â all this had its foundation in the tradition of the icon.â
This new take on Warholâs art has yet to make inroads among scholars in the United States. But in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and in particular in Warholâs motherâs hometown of Medzilaborce, Warhol is being embraced as something of a local hero.