Modern Art Discovers Pompeii (3): Andy Warhol’s Prints of Vesuvius.
A contemporary art dealer from Naples, Lucio Amelio, commissioned Warhol to create a series of images of Vesuvius in 1985. Warhol had already contributed works on the 1980 Irpinia earthquake which ravaged Southern Italy. At this exhibition Amelio- who virtually singlehandedly brought modern art to Naples- showed work by artists like Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg who referred to Giorgio Sommer’s photo of the dog at Pompeii in an earlier work- Cy Twombly, and Mario Merz all of whom created art to highlight the plight of the disaster and raise money for its survivors. Though Warhol is well-known for his images of urban, modern disasters like his car crash, accidents, not much is known about his Vesuvius series (above) since they have attracted little critical attention. Some scholars believe that Warhol used paintings by Joseph Wright, Pierre Volaire, and the more obscure Camillo di Vito as sources, but the model seems to have been a postcard by an unknown artist. This postcard is lost but known through a b/w photograph. And in fact Warhol used Giorgio Sommer’s 1872 photograph of the eruption, now in the Warhol archives. The links between Pompeii and modern art still await deeper commitment and excavation.