Jul 16, 2023 - News

DuPage County cements itself as a pop art destination

Andy Warhol's artwork turning white Brillo boxes into "Bright futures" boxes.
Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

The western suburbs have joined forces to become the pop art mecca of the Midwest.

Why it matters: The shift is upending conventional thinking about big cities dominating the world of important art.

What's happening: As post-pandemic demographic changes settle, DuPage County has invested in world-class arts and culture.

  • Case in point: the expansive new "Warhol" show at Cleve Carney Museum of Art (CCMA) at College of DuPage.

Details: In addition to Warhol photographs and 94 works from "Andy Warhol Portfolios: A Life in Pop," the Cleve Carney exhibit features interactive experiences, videos and re-created pieces from the artist's life made just for this show.

  • They help tell Warhol's story from his early upbringing to his final days.

The exhibit includes:

Of note: You also get to see some of the iconic interactive art pieces that are part of the Warhol Foundation tour.

Photo of kids playing with balloons in an art exhibit.
Warhol's famous "Silver Clouds" are on display as part of the exhibit. GIF: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

What they're saying: "We wanted to give people an experience," museum director Diana Martinez tells Axios. "We knew we had to go big or go home. So we went big, and it's 11,000 square feet transformed."

The big picture: "Warhol" follows the museum's previous exhibit exploring the works of artist Frida Kahlo. CCMA beat out Chicago museums in landing the Kahlo exhibit, placing it off I-88 and pulling some cachet from downtown.

The intrigue: The museum has also engaged surrounding suburbs to take Warhol's art to the streets, literally. You can find downtown sculptures in nearby towns including Naperville, Wheaton and Aurora.

Massive stacked Campbell's soup cans from Andy Warhol stand in a park in Aurora.
A soup can sculpture in downtown Aurora. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

"I think it's really inspired everybody," says Martinez. We have 26 community partners with Warhol-themed events happening all throughout DuPage County. That's everything from breweries making pop art beer to Studio 54 pop-up parties."

  • "To see the collaboration and the excitement — I think that we're all really proud of that."

The bottom line: The exhibit is impressive, but the synergy between suburbs and the attempt to bring world-class art to DuPage County makes it a premier destination for a day trip west.


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