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Warhol's Jewish work

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-03-27

The first UK showing of celebrated pop culture artist Andy Warhol's Jewish Portraits is now on display in London at the National Portrait Gallery.

Debuted at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1980, the collection features Jewish people from the 20th century including scientist Albert Einstein, philosopher Marin Buber, comedians The Marx brothers, composer George Gershwin and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

Its title and why Warhol, who died in 1987, painted those who were chosen divided critics at the time, but since then, the exhibition has toured the world and has served as a showcase of some of the Jewish world's greatest thinkers, performers, politicians, writers and musicians.

The New York Times said in 1980: "'the show is vulgar, it reeks of commercialism, and its contribution to art is nil."

Of course, since then many have recognised the collection and its fresh approach to using Jewish people as a theme.

UK Warhol fans have until July 2 to see the exhibtion and come to their own conclusions.

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National Portrait Gallery