You might not know a lot about Slovakia, but I am pretty sure you all know Andy Warhol. He was one of the most famous and influential artists of the 20th century, and he invented a whole new movement – pop art. When you think of pop art and Andy Warhol, you probably think of the USA, and wonder why he is so important to Slovakia. Well, he did spend most of his life and career in the USA, but even though he was trying to deny his roots, some sources say he was born in Slovakia, back then as Andrej Varchola. And in his alleged birthplace Medzilaborce, you can find the Museum of Modern Art dedicated to him.
Medzilaborce is a little town in the eastern part of Slovakia, with only 6 000 inhabitants. You can not find here hipster cafes or luxury hotels. It is a village like every other in Slovakia, where you have a church, a local pub, and a few houses, but yet, so many tourists visit this town every year! Medzilaborce has one of the best museums of modern art in Slovakia. The reason why the museum was built here is that Andy Warhol's family comes from this part of Slovakia.
His parents emigrated to Pittsburgh, the USA between the two World Wars. We know for sure that Andy’s brother was also born in Slovakia. However, it is not clear about Andy himself. Most of the sources say he was born in the USA, but during the harsh time of World Wars not many documents remained preserved, so it is difficult to confirm it. Andy Warhol used to say he comes from “nowhere”. Locals like to believe that he was born in Slovakia, and that is why, you find in Medzilaborce not only the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art but also a life-size statue of him, Andy Warhol Street and the Andy Hotel.
The museum was established in 1991 by Warhol’s family and the Slovak Ministry of culture, and it was the first museum devoted to Andy Warhol. You can find many original pieces borrowed from the Andy Warhol's Foundation for Visual Arts in New York, from private collectors, and some pieces that are in the property of the museum. The exhibition showcases the creative periods of the artist, including his dominant artistic themes.
Displayed is also the art-work of Andy Warhol's brother, Paul Warhola, and Paul Warhola's son, James Warhola, as they were illustrators too. The exhibition consists of about 200 works of art. The main focus of the museum is of course on Andy Warhol, his life, family, art and career. But it also focuses on Slovak, as well as foreign, contemporary artists. Another famous American author, whose work is exposed in the museum, is a pop-art and graffiti artist Keith Haring, representing New York’s street art culture in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, Andy Warhol, unlike his family, never visited his alleged birthplace Medzilaborce, but the king of pop-art would be for sure delighted to see that a town with just 6000 inhabitants devoted the museum of modern art to him and turned the whole town into an Andy Warhol memorial. It is a bit bizarre you might think, but there is only one and the most famous Slovak artist who had never been to Slovakia.
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