The paintings in this exhibition exist in a fabulous place beyond words. After the hype, the undeniable fact of his painting remains. In that fact we see Warhol's genius; you can hear the clang of history around him. The train of American art historywhich had been speeding up ever since abstract expressionism, and had started lurching to and fro around Rauschenberg and Johnsleaps off the track and begins a new course, the one we're on now, with Warhol. It's hard to imagine where we'd be without him.
No painting in the history of art ever looked the way Warhol's do. Those vibrating contrasts of intense, saturated, psychedelic chroma belong solely to him. Ditto the way he uses silkscreen. Other people have employed the technique, but not with all those marvelous, imperfect skid marks, overlaps, stops, and starts. Robert Pincus-Witten, this show's canny curator, observes, "The language of approval comes through paint." If so, then Warhol was "abnormal" insofar as he was a monster of freedom, willing to forgo that approval for his own "swishy" way of painting.