PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Shanghai, China — the center of China’s march from ancient culture to superpower.
It’s a city that contains vestiges of the past — and in it science fiction skyscrapers straight out of Flash Gordon — it is also staking a bold claim to the future.
Commerce hums along at a pulsing beat, and if you look closely at the signs and logos of its restaurants and stores, you might mistake it for the a city in the U.S.
“Walking down the streets, there’s Tiffany’s and all sorts designer stores,” said Jesse Kowalski with the Warhol Museum. “It’s not at all what I thought China would be.”
Into this cityscape comes the work Andy Warhol — the Pittsburgh-born American pop artist, who celebrated our own country’s pursuit of fame, mass culture and materialism.
Now, China’s involved in those same pursuits and this traveling exhibit from Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum and sponsored by BNY Mellon, is being received by the Chinese with open arms.
“Big news,” said Shanghai resident Natalie Yan. “Giant news.”
Shanghai is home to 24 million people, so the introduction of Warhol here is a major cultural event.
And the importation of American culture has the Chinese enraptured, as they seem to have developed a strongly American interest in celebrity.
“My favorite painting is Elizabeth Taylor portrait,” Yan said. “She is the most beautiful woman in the world.”
“I guess it’s kind of great to see the kind of commercialism that America has coming into China,” Kowalski said.
The Warhol Museum and BNY Mellon are taking Warhol through Asia — with stops in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. It’s an effort spread good will and facilitate cultural exchange and the promote Pittsburgh overseas.
But the interest is greatest on Mainland China, as Warhol seems to speak to this culture in transition, which is becoming more and more like us.
And if there are warnings about that in Warhol’s work, they seem to go unnoticed by the Chinese.
Warhol comes to China at a time when the Chinese people are embracing America -like commercialism and American popular cultural and the Chinese people like what they see.