Fifteen minutes of posthumous fame just keeps going for Andy Warhol, the undisputed giant of Pop Art who’s getting not just one, but two major exhibitions in Wahington.

Warhol: Headlines at the National Gallery of Art will focus – for the first time – the legendary New York artist’s fascination with front-page news and tabloid sensationalism.

Andy Warhol: Shadows at the nearby Hirshhorn museum will bring together 102 monumental silkscreened and hand-painted canvases – never before shown in their collective entirety – conceived from distorted photographs of shadows.

Both shows opened yesterday under the collective title Warhol on the Mall.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Polish immigrant parents, Warhol drew on his early experiences as a commercial designer to become one of the most important – and enigmatic – personalities in modern art.

He died in February 1987 at the age of 58, leaving so many possessions that it took auctioneers nine days to sell them all off.

He is best known for outsized portraits of celebrities, many of whom frequented his Factory studio in Manhattan, although his talents extended into avant-garde film-making, Polaroid photography, writing and record producing.

About 80 pieces make up the Headlines show, which touches on such themes as airplane crashes, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the many love affairs of actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Some 40 per cent of the show has never been seen before.

Setting the tone for the exhibition Warhol’s groundbreaking A Boy for Meg, an oil-on-canvas reproduction of the New York Post announcing the news that Britain’s Princess Margaret had given birth. From 1968, Flash – November 22, 1963 recreates over the space of an entire wall news agency dispatches that revealed, minute by minute, Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, Texas on that day.

“He is calling our attention to the fact that the media is feeding our appetite for the news, which is seemingly insatiable,” the show’s curator Molly Donovan said.

“Warhol himself couldn’t get enough of the news,” she added, and indeed he was himself a regular fixture of the gossip columns.

“He wanted to show us that we’re responsible for the news, that the news in its contents are largely determined by us through our patronage, through our consumption and desires and fears.”

Headlines closes at the National Gallery of Art – which, rather appropriately, is close the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news gathering – on January 2.

It then goes on the road, travelling to Frankfurt from February 11 to May 13, Rome from June 11 to September 9 and finally to Warhol’s hometown between October 14 and January 6, 2013.

While Headlines draws from the earlier stages of Warhol’s fame, Shadows emerged in the last decades of his life.

Rich in blues, greys and reds, the 102 canvases will be installed edge-to-edge and run uninterrupted for almost 150 meters around the Hirshhorn’s galleries.

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