Aria's Warhol exhibit features work from his time in Minneapolis

Categories: Art
Courtesy Gordon Locksley
Andy Warhol and two Marilyns at Locksley Shea Gallery in 1974
The year was 1974, and the Minneapolis art scene was aflutter with the arrival of Andy Warhol. According to an article that year from the Minneapolis Tribune, the pop-art icon showed up at the airport with three empty luggage bags, courtesy of the luggage company he was endorsing.

Warhol was in town to attend a screening of his film L'Amour at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a book signing of his newly released The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again), and for an exhibition of his work at Locksley Shea Gallery. 

Warhol self portrait.jpg
Courtesy Christie's
Self Portrait (1973) by Andy Warhol. Unique Polaroid print.
Warhol's final trip to Minneapolis in '74 is part of the inspiration for the exhibition and sale of his work opening this week at Aria. The show is part of a multi-year, multi-platform partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Christie's. "Andy Warhol at Christie's" is a week-long event that boasts more than 50 paintings, photographs, prints, and works on paper, including a selection of pieces originally featured in Warhol's last show here. Highlights include self-portraits, a screenprint of Marilyn Monroe, and portraits of local socialites, including gallery owners Gordon Locksley and George Shea.

Locksley began his career as a hairdresser, according to Aria owner Peter Remes. "He was a small, eccentric guy collecting impressionism," Remes says. His red-carpet salon catered to upper-class ladies.

Courtesy Gordon Locksley
Gordon Locksley and George Shea 
Locksley was interested in contemporary art, and formed a relationship with a premiere gallery in New York owned by Leo Castelli, which represented Warhol as well as Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and other avant-garde artists of the time. This relationship led to Castelli giving various works to Locksley to consign privately. 

Locksley's hair salon became a place where the ladies who were getting their hair done could buy a Warhol drawing afterwards. "That was the start of Locksley Shea," Remes says. 

Locksley and Shea were a "progressive gay couple," says Remes, and would have infamous parties in their Mount Curve home, including a raucous event where artist Christo wrapped nudes in cellophane. 

In 1974, Warhol arrived at the screening of L'Amour with a "limousine full of attendants," wrote Jon Bream in the Minneapolis Star. He described the artist as "frail-looking and shy," and though he barely spoke above a whisper, was "like a magnet, both the power of attraction and repulsion."
Warhol PARTY SCENE001.jpg
Courtesy Gordon Locksley
Party at Andy Warhol Exhibition at Locksley Shea Gallery
Warhol didn't introduce the film but rather signed copies of his book, where he'd write "Campbell's Soup" across them and sign his name. He also autographed a $5 bill, a scarf, and a leather tennis shoe, according to the Bream's article. 

Afterwards, he was whisked off to an "invitation-only champagne and chocolate-covered cherries reception at the Locksley-Shea Gallery," where several of his works were on display. There, he stood in a corner autographing copies of his book and posing with "heavily made-up matrons and impeccably groomed men in Cardin suits and other stylish outfits, including a pair in Saks Fifth Avenue service station mechanic's jumpsuits," wrote Bream. Warhol himself was dressed in a tie and safari coat with blue jeans.  

Warhol Sunset.jpg
Courtesy Christie's
Sunset (1972), by Andy Warhol. Screenprint in colors, on smooth wove paper, from the total edition of 632 unique impressions.
Warhol also signed books at the B. Dalton Bookstore on Nicollet Mall, and stayed at the Marquette Inn at the IDS Center, which inspired him create "sunset" pictures to hang in the rooms (similar to the one pictured right). 

There are several thousand prints still left in the Andy Warhol Foundation collection, which include many prints. The foundation has decided it no longer wants to sell works directly, but will continue to endow art organizations around the world.  The exhibition/sale at Aria will be the first of a number of such sales.  

"Andy Warhol at Christie's"
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 16-23
105 N. First St., Minneapolis
Admission to the exhibition is free and open to the public. 

Courtesy Gordon Locksley

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