Dance in Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds

Standing in Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds art installation—on view at the Denver Art Museum in Rhythm & Roots: Dance in American Art—you might feel as if you are in an aquarium. The metallic balloons float freely through space, casting reflections on the blue walls, mimicking the immersive feeling of being underwater. Balloons seemingly follow each other around, creating schools and catching currents across the room.

Or, as the title suggests, you might feel you’re floating in the sky along with clouds. Visitors are invited to interact with the balloons, in a sense becoming collaborators with Warhol as they participate.

black and white photo of Andy Warhol lying down under one of the silver metallic balloons
Andy Warhol Under the Silver Cloud. © Steve Schapiro

Warhol & Merce Cunningham

Originally installed in New York’s Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966, the balloons were made in a collaboration between Andy Warhol and engineer Billy Klüver. Challenging the traditional notion of art as something to be viewed and not touched, Silver Clouds brought inspiration to many of Warhol’s contemporaries, including Merce Cunningham, who choreographed RainForest around the work (video of RainForest is projected within the installation), and Willard Maas who created the film Andy Warhol’s Silver Flotations.

Fifteen balloons fill the Silver Clouds room, and they require daily maintenance—being filled with a mixture of helium, nitrogen, and ambient air. Ideally, each balloon floats approximately three to four feet above the ground, staying away from the floor or ceiling. Each Monday, we inflate a new set of 15 balloons and place them in the gallery.

Come dance amongst these floating metallic balloons and become part of the collaboration through October 2, 2016.

Top credit: Andy Warhol (American 1928-1987), Silver Clouds, 1966. Helium-filled metalized plastic film; 36 x 51 in. (91.4 x 129.5 cm). The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Courtney Davis is an intern in the learning and engagement department at the Denver Art Museum.

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