In a telephone interview from Regina, Saskatchewan, where he was preparing to speak during a Warhol show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Warhol museum, said people attach different meanings to the macabre works.
One person looking at Electric Chair, which shows an unoccupied electric chair in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York, could say it makes a statement in favor of capital punishment, he said. "Then the next people would say, 'No, see, Warhol's showing you how horrible that thing is, that even a child molester should not be put through the indignity of that,'" Sokolowski said.
He also said the artist is "100 times more" relevant today than he was in his own time, as new generations discover and embrace Warhol's work.
"His star paintings define celebrity as part of the cultural world we live in and — for better or worse — relate to more than the Mona Lisa," said Elayne Rapping, a pop culture expert and professor of American studies at the University at Buffalo.