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Pop Art in the middle of the desert: Warhol pops up in Saudi Arabia

Fronted by Patrick Moore, the curator of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the exhibition is the first to highlight Warhol’s work in the Arab world.

In Saudi Arabia, the outstanding works of acclaimed American artist Andy Warhol are currently on display at the Maraya Concert Hall building in AlUla in an exhibition titled “FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla”, on the occasion of the second edition of the city’s festival, which aims to establish the region as a hub for global art and culture.

The exhibition is arranged in different rooms of the gallery and features the artist’s “screen tests,” black-and-white filmed portraits of visitors to his studio, The Factory, made between 1964 and 1966. A second gallery, entitled Silver Clouds, is filled with floating metal balloons, one of Warhol’s most spectacular works, which make the exhibition all the more interactive and fun for visitors.

Who was Andy Warhol?

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, Andy Warhol began his artistic career as a commercial illustrator in New York. He quickly made a name for himself on the city’s art scene, developing a unique style that combined commercial and contemporary art.

The artist, now commemorated in Saudi Arabia, is best known for his pop-cultural art, which features images of celebrities, brands and everyday consumer products. Among his most famous works are series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jacqueline Kennedy and even Mao Zedong, as well as Campbell’s Soup cans.

Warhol played an important role in the Pop Art movement, which emerged in the 1960s. Pop Art is distinguished by its use of popular culture and advertising in contemporary art, as well as its use of mass reproduction techniques.


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Une publication partagée par ANINA (@aninaarts)

Warhol in the sights of Vision 2030 

Saudi Arabia, through its ambitious “Vision 2030” reform program led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has set out to transform all of its sectors, with a particular focus on arts, culture and entertainment, in order to stimulate economic innovation and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.  The emblematic works on display in the Maraya Concert Hall illustrate this transformation in their own way. Warhol had a passion for glamour, celebrities and entertainment, subjects on which the country is emerging as a regional mecca.

Moreover, AlUla continues to develop its art scene by investing in local and international exhibitions as well as educational programs, such as Madrasat Addeera, a former girls’ school in AlUla that provides free training to approximately 70 local Saudi women in traditional arts and crafts through the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.


See also

The exhibition “My Silk Road” honors the Algerian heritage


Published on 24 February 2023

#Saudi Arabia