Andy Warhol in Taipei

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Andy Warhol at the CKS

The latest ‘hot’ exhibition to visit in Taipei is th Andy Warhol retrospective at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (at least, I think they changed the name back from ‘Democracy Memorial Hall’, when the DPP were pissing around with changing names of historical monuments). I suppose I am not the biggest fan on earth of Warhol, but I am happy enough to go along and check it out – especially since it was with a few arty friends who know a little more about the subject of screen printing and pop art.

What made me double-intrigued was the fact that it was being held underneath the mausoleum of said National Icon – and it could not escape my finely-honed sense of irony that one of the key exhibits was a print of his arch-nemesis, Mao Zedong.

Like all too many exhibitions in Taiwan, there were too many exhibits (walls and walls full of Marilyn, it seemed) and too many people shuffling around. The exhibition design was lacking, and the space was, in a word, ‘poky’ – although I can hardly blame this on them – if you plan to have an exhibition under a tomb you ain’t going to argue about space. The shop did seem, however, to deliver on the ‘commercial art’ promise of Warhol, and was thus packed with people buying tat pasted with Warhol signatures.

Or maybe I was just hung over. Anyway – a fun day out. By starting at Chiang Kai Shek and ending up at Ximen, I really did feel like I was in a foreign country for the first time in a little while.


Seeing the dancers practicing in the windows reminded me of trips there when I first arrived. The photo I took that day of the kids throwing one of their friends in the air is still one of my favourite shots.


Friends jacking around


I probably take the same photo every time, but it still makes me chuckle.




Impressive doors, and brass nobs.

4 Comments

  1. DNH
    Posted 2009/03/22 at 23:58 | Permalink

    Hey…Chiang Kai Shek is not buried in a tomb at CKS Memorial Hall. He is now in a cemetery in Xizhi with his son, after being entombed in his former residence in Taoyuan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_kai_shek#Death_and_legacy

    I have heard so many rumours over the years too…but in the end, nothing like Uncle Ho.

  2. Posted 2009/03/23 at 08:28 | Permalink

    I never let a fact get in the way of a nice story!

    Yes – indeed you are correct, completely.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted 2009/03/26 at 17:35 | Permalink

    “By starting at Chiang Kai Shek and ending up at Ximen, I really did feel like I was in a foreign country for the first time in a little while.”

    Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall and many of the “Chinese”-looking architecture in Taiwan were built by the KMT because they found Taiwan to not be Chinese enough. Ironically, what they built is largely merely referential to norther Chinese architecture (the scales are all wrong) and incongruous with the southern Chinese architecture found on the island.

    The sort of “true” Chinese architecture are the Daoist and Confucian temples and the san he yuan homes in the countryside.

    Just as these ridiculous pieces were supposed to satisfy the waisheng sensibilities of their monolithic Chinese identity, I suppose it’s very natural for them to also appeal to foreign tourists who seek some exotic naive feudal era other that never changes, never borrows, never is aware of an outside world.

  4. Posted 2009/03/27 at 01:30 | Permalink

    The last thing I was looking for when visiting an Andy Warhol retrospective was ‘some exotic naive feudal era other that never changes, never borrows, never is aware of an outside world.’

    Never the less, thanks for the comment. I would agree that the scale of the architecture is incongruous with the surrounding city, but at the same time it is one of the few areas of open space in the entire city, and for that I appreciate it a great deal when I do make occasion to visit.

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