I spent the summer of 2007 abroad — mostly in Dublin. I had enrolled in the summer intensive course at the Gaiety School of Acting, the National Theatre School of Ireland.
When my program ended, I hopped on a plane to Scotland. A childhood friend of mine was studying for her master’s in festival management at the University of Edinburgh.
In other words, I had a free place to stay.
I arrived just in time for previews for the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe — the largest arts festival in the world. (In 2018, Edinburgh Fringe ran for 25 days, showcasing artists from around the world in over 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues.)
Consumed by her duties as the resident stage manager of the university’s historic Bedlam Theatre, my friend was not able to play tour guide during my visit. So I spent a week exploring the festival and its myriad offerings by myself…
I saw an Israeli modern dance troupe stage the myth of Orpheus. The movement-based piece had no words, but I’ll never forget the guttural sound of loss when Eurydice was pulled back into the underworld…
I sang along as the Dutch Eagles — a six-man cover band from the Netherlands — performed classic ballads in perfect harmony on the altar at St. Stephen’s Church…
I also bought a ticket to see the hilarious Australian duo Simon Morley and David “Friendy” Friend perform their NSFW act Puppetry of the Penis…
All told, I think I saw upward of 20 performances that week. I also made time to eat plenty of shepherd’s pie, wander around the Royal Botanic Garden and stop in a few of the museums.
That’s when I saw my first Warhol.
In person, of course. Warhol’s art has ascended to icon status. I had seen many of his pieces printed on posters, T-shirts, tote bags, magnets and many other kitschy things besides. But I’d never seen an authentic Warhol with my own two eyes.
Lucky for me, I happened to be in Edinburgh the same week a major exhibition of Warhol’s works opened at the Scottish National Gallery.
And this wasn’t just any old exhibition…
The showing was part of a series of worldwide events commemorating the 20th anniversary of Warhol’s death. It featured screen prints, drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages, films, photographs and installations from every period of his life.
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh loaned several pieces for the occasion — pieces never before seen in Europe — as did several other museums and private collectors. Both floors of the Royal Scottish Academy building were filled with some 200 works.
A few of my favorites included…
- A roomful of paintings of cars and planes and toys — all hung at a child’s eye level. It was neat to see kids walking around normally while adults crouched to look
- The display dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor, whom Warhol famously painted in 1963 while she was severely ill with pneumonia
- The Silver Clouds installation — a roomful of floating chrome-colored helium balloons. (Although, for my money, I thought they looked more like pillows than clouds.)
I spent so long looking — reading every placard, viewing every angle — that I was asked to leave a few minutes after closing. So I walked to the pub for a pint and to mull over everything I had just seen.
That was an incredible opportunity. The chance of a lifetime. An experience I will never forget.
Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities…
It’s no secret fine art is consistently one of the best-performing asset classes. It beat the S&P handily last year. And that’s putting it kindly.
But what’s largely unknown is how regular folks — folks like you and me, not the mega-rich — can invest in showstopping pieces without the showstopping price tags.
Yesterday, UCW publisher Adam Markley told you about a new company called Masterworks. They’ve created a way for the general public to invest in blue chip art for as little as $1,000.
And the piece being funded right now is in fact a Warhol — a Marilyn from his Reversal series.
It’s more than halfway there — which means your chance of owning a piece of America’s highest-selling artist is swiftly disappearing.
Lucille St. John
Lucille St. John
Lucille St. John is the managing editor of Unconventional Wealth. A gentlewoman and a scholar, Lucille never received much in the way of a financial education. But what she lacks in fiscal knowledge she makes up for in taste.
She’s going to take you with her on her unconventional wealth journey — starting from...