Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Andy Warhol's work is on display in the Hall Art Foundation's old farmhouses

Light green images on a black background show a person's facial features with eyes, nose and mouth and spiky hair.
Hall Art Foundation
Andy Warhol created this work, "Self-Portrait (Fright Wig)" in 1986, just months before his death. The painting depicts superimposed images of Warhol's face and hair. In it, he's wearing one of his signature spiky blond wigs. At just 10"x10", the painting is part of the "Small is Beautiful" exhibit at Hall Art Foundation.

You don't have to visit Boston or New York City to see some of the most recognizable art in the world.

The Hall Art Foundation is a small gallery situated in the old barns and farmhouse of a former dairy operation in Reading.

And the foundation recently opened an exhibit of more than 100 of Andy Warhol’s paintings called "Small is Beautiful."

Maryse Brand is director of the Hall Art Foundation. Recently, Brand spoke to Vermont Public's Mary Williams Engisch about the exhibit — and a connection between Warhol and Vermont. Their conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Mary Williams Engisch: Well, let's get our bearings first, and then we can have some fun diving into the paintings. First of all, what's the Hall Art Foundation?

Maryse Brand: The Hall Art Foundation was founded in 2007 by Andy and Christine Hall. It's goal is to make available works from its own collection and the Halls' collection for the enjoyment and education of the public. So we have our location here in Reading, Vermont, which has been open since about 2012, but we also operate a museum in Germany. We have a partnership with [the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.] Then we also collaborate with other museums and art institutions around the world to to make available works from the collection.

What kind of a niche does it fill in Vermont's art scene?

There are certainly other excellent museums of contemporary art in Vermont, but there's not that many compared to some other states in the Northeast. So it's a museum devoted to just contemporary art. As well as the exhibitions that we have in our galleries, our buildings are situated on about 400 acres of land where we have many outdoor sculptures by artists installed, as well as walking trails. So we hope that we are bringing exhibitions of contemporary art in a beautiful setting where people can come and enjoy the landscape as well as the art inside the buildings.

A drawing of a Campbell soup from the 60's by Painter Andy Warhol
Hall Art Foundation
"Campbell's Soup Can." Andy Warhol,1961.

And as I mentioned in the introduction, the exhibit is called, "Small is Beautiful." What is that name's significance?

All of the works come from the Hall collection. There are over 100 paintings in this exhibition plus one sculpture. Although the Halls own some other larger-scale Warhol paintings, we decided to have this show focus on just the small-scale ones.

Although, there have been many Warhol exhibitions where there are large-scale works — I could be wrong, and I would be happy to be corrected — but I think this is the largest exhibition of Warhol paintings to have ever taken place in Vermont.

I also think it's one of the very few Warhol retrospectives to have taken place in the Northeast in the last 10 or 20 years. You know, having a retrospective exhibition of Andy Warhol's paintings is actually incredibly difficult and expensive to organize. So that's what's kind of cool about our show — it's small-format works that all come from one collection and span all 25 years of Warhol's pop art output.

Maryse, what can visitors to the gallery expect when they go to see these Warhols? Are there any surprises in store in how the installation is put up?

Our grounds are comprised of five buildings, and there are some big barns where we could have installed big paintings. But we actually chose to install the Warhol show in the former farmhouses, which date from the early 1800s.

That's a unique way to experience Warhol's paintings. I think in this show you could find yourself in a room, the size of your living room or your bedroom, sort of surrounded by Warhol paintings — and it's much more intimate.

Can you just describe a little bit more the sort of works that he created? We're using words like "pop culture" or "modern art."

Warhol and his contemporaries were working in New York in the 1960s. This was after the war, and before then there had been all of these abstract expressionist painters, and the big thing for them was to be very gestural and emotional and emotive in their paintings. Warhol and his pop art contemporaries wanted to incorporate the everyday — everyday objects, everyday consumables — into their artwork. Objects, imagery from popular culture, newspapers, magazines.

Today, we might take it for granted that artists might use pop culture sources as the basis for their artwork, but when Warhol was doing in the 1960s — it was pretty revolutionary!

Okay, so let's talk about a couple of paintings in particular that are in "Small is Beautiful." One of the paintings from Warhol — it's probably one that most of us would know, right off the bat, from 1961— is"Campbell's Soup Can." Maryse, can you describe this work for us? What do you see when you look at this particular painting?

Well, exactly like you said, "Campbell's Soup Can" is now one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of pop art. For this particular painting that we're showing, it's based on an illustrated image of a Campbell Soup can that Warhol found in a magazine ad.

He projected that image of the can onto his canvas and traced its shape. He drew it in pencil and then hand painted it by using the image of a highly recognizable and commonly available sort of commercial good as his subject.

Warhol broke down traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture. So this example that we're showing here, still shows signs of the artist's hand.

"Patty Oldenburg." Andy Warhol, 1962
Hall Art Foundation
"Patty Oldenburg." Andy Warhol, 1962

I understand there's another painting in the show. It's got a unique Vermont connection. It's one of Warhol's earliest portraits of someone named Patty Oldenburg, a key figure in the collaborative art scene in New York's 1960s. Can you describe that painting for us and then tell us a little bit more about Patty and her connection to Vermont?

Yeah, so Warhol made this painting as a present for Patty Oldenburg. She, as you said, was a key figure in the collaborative art scene of New York in the 1960s. She was married to the other pop artist, Claes Oldenburg.

She was also in a band with Warhol. Patty Oldenburg — her name is not Patty Oldenburg anymore; her name is Patty Mucha now — farms, writes and paints near St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Warhol used two slightly different offset colors. You can apparently — and we'll have these available— look at the painting with 3D glasses, which will make it sort of pop out, I guess?

Well lastly, Maryse, how would you recommend visitors experience "Small is Beautiful?" Is it like an all-at-once kind of a show or a couple of visits? What do you recommend?

Well, I think like any museum visit, the more time you spend, the more you'll get out of it. A lot of our visitors make a day out of it.

You know, they come from wherever they're coming. Come and see the exhibitions, take a break, have lunch and enjoy the grounds.

They're so beautiful, and we've got outdoor sculptures everywhere. You can really take a long or short walk and we're right by a waterfall.

There are different opportunities to enjoy being outdoors. Then go back inside a building and look at some more art and really make a day out of it.

The "Small is Beautiful" exhibit is open through Nov. 26 at Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Latest Stories