What We Love: Reflections on Warhol

The ICA revisits the art superstar's Philly exhibition in 1965

Photos courtesy of ICA

Andy Warhol once said, “It was incredible to think of it happening at an art opening. Even a Pop Art opening. But then, we weren’t just at the art exhibit – we were the art exhibit, we were the art incarnate.”

He could have been talking about the latest exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) – “That’s How We Escaped: Reflections on Andy Warhol” (through Aug. 7) –  a retrospective of the artist’s original exhibit in Philadelphia four decades ago.

“That’s How We Escaped” is kind of a meta-exhibition, reflecting on the Pop Art king’s landmark show at the ICA back in 1965 when it was still located at the Fisher Fine Arts Library. At the time, the event was considered to be a turning point in Warhol’s career, putting him on the map even after making splashes in the New York art world with his Campbell Soup Cans.

This new show – curated by 12 undergraduate students from Penn – features 24 works, including drawings and photographs from the opening night with Warhol and many from his now-famous entourage – including Edie Sedgwick. As history reveals, Warhol and Sedgwick arrived on the library’s spiral staircase and remained there through much of the event – putting themselves on a kind of pedestal – and no doubt part of the press-getting antics the underground royalty become well known for throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Warhol is even said to have left the opening through a rooftop passage so as to avoid the growing crowd.

The exhibition – one of three now running at the ICA – also features an original Campbell’s Soup invitation  – signed by the artist. There’s also an installation by artist Alex Da Corte reconceptualizing the fateful evening.

And while the event itself may have been grand back in the day, this show is a bit more laid back as it recounts one of the moments that redefined Warhol’s stardom in the art world – and putting the 20th century figurehead on the cultural map for much longer than even his own over-simplified 15 minutes could have ever predicted.

And did we mention it’s free?

“That’s How We Escaped: Reflections on Andy Warhol,” through Aug. 7, ICA, 118 S. 36th St., 215-898-7108.