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My Afternoon with Andy: An Intern’s Experience with a TAP Tour

July 30, 2015

Until a few days ago, I probably had the same relationship with Andy Warhol as most people. Sure, I knew he was important in the landscape of modern art, but did I know why? Admittedly… No. I could certainly recognize a few of his most iconic works, like the Campbell’s Soup can and his portraits of Marilyn, but other than that? I was lost. 

From Marilyn to Mao: Andy Warhol’s Famous Faces asks its viewers to consider just that. We may know fun facts about our favorite celebrity and follow them on Instagram, but do we know them? The likely answer is no, we don’t. And in my case with Andy Warhol, I didn’t even have the façade of social media to rely on! I barely knew who this man was, beyond seeing his work reprinted on canvas tote bags and notecards in gift shops around the world.  

Enter: the TAP tour, and my whirlwind introduction to Andy Warhol began. Audio excerpts from both Warhol’s personal diary and art history lectures from USC professor Dr. Bradford Collins scored my stroll through the gallery. Thoughts from local artists on Warhol’s work gave me new perspectives to think on as I moved from piece to piece. I was enthralled, not only by the art, but by what I was learning about the multifaceted nature of this man and his life. At a few points during my tour, I found myself laughing out loud, or audibly sighing in reaction to what I was seeing and hearing. My interaction with each work of art felt like a discussion – and the TAP tour allowed me to bring more to the conversation. 

Because of the TAP tour, my time in From Marilyn to Mao was so much more than simply viewing Warhol’s technicolor prints. It became a multimedia experience on Warhol’s thoughts, passions, and process. Andy Warhol was no longer this enigmatic figure of the art world to me, but instead he was a real man, with a wonderful and crazy life that informed his work. As my TAP tour came to a close, I realized that I didn’t want to leave at all. But leave I did, and with a sensation I don’t often get when I walk away from an art museum: feeling like I just made a friend.

- Grace Ann Roberts, adult programs intern