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Warhol’s ‘Beethoven’ finds a home in PSU's Bicknell Center

Ludwig van Beethoven seems right at home in Pittsburg State University’s Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Members of the campus and community gathered Wednesday morning in the James S. and Treva J. Dawson Lobby of the Bicknell Center to officially unveil Andy Warhol’s “Beethoven, II. 390.” The 1987 serigraph is a gift of Robert D. and Gwendolyn Tyler.

Ludwig van Beethoven seems right at home in Pittsburg State University’s Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Members of the campus and community gathered Wednesday morning in the James S. and Treva J. Dawson Lobby of the Bicknell Center to officially unveil Andy Warhol’s “Beethoven, II. 390.” The 1987 serigraph is a gift of Robert D. and Gwendolyn Tyler.

At the unveiling ceremony, Robert Tyler told the campus and community members who had gathered, that he first thought of purchasing a major Warhol piece for the university long before the Bicknell Center was built.

“It was over 10 years ago that I first thought of purchasing a Beethoven print by Warhol for the university,” Tyler recalled. “I thought at the time that the Beethoven could take the place of the (Birger) Sandzen paintings hanging in McCray Hall and the Sandzen paintings could be displayed in the Overman Student Center where they would be more visible.”

Although the purchase did not take place at that time, the idea remained with Tyler. Then, when Tyler was in Arizona last fall, an art broker he knew told him that he believed there was a Beethoven that Tyler could acquire. After consulting with PSU President Steve Scott, Tyler made the purchase – not for McCray Hall, but for the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, which was still under construction.

Tyler said he wasn’t disappointed that the Warhol didn’t go to McCray Hall as he had originally planned.

“It is perfect for this place,” Tyler said, noting not only the building’s modern design, but also its dedication to the fine arts.

President Scott called the Tylers’ gift, which now becomes part of the university’s permanent art collection, “extraordinary.”

“The Tylers have a long history of supporting their university and this gift...speaks volumes about their belief in our mission and of our university’s commitment to the arts,” Scott said.

President Scott noted the Tyler’s long history of support for Pittsburg State University through the Robert and Gwendolyn Tyler Charitable Foundation, including significant support for the construction of the Tyler Research Center and the establishment of the Dr. George Graham Plastics Engineering Technology Scholarship.

Robert D. Tyler, president of Winfield Consumer Products, Inc., is a 1975 plastics engineering technology graduate of PSU. In 1988, he founded Winfield Consumer Products, Inc., which has its corporate headquarters in Winfield, Kan. The company manufactures truck and sport utility vehicle accessories under the Husky Liners brand name.

Tyler previously served as a trustee of the PSU Foundation, Inc. He is a member of the PSU Plastics Advisory Council and the Tylers are lifetime members of the PSU Presidents Society. Tyler also served as a member of the PSU Centennial Commission. He was honored by the PSU Alumni Association with its Outstanding Alumni Award in 1988 and with the PSU Meritorious Achievement Award in 2011.

The art

“Beethoven, II. 390” is an artist’s proof – number 9 of 15 artist’s proofs created. The final edition for the “Beethoven, II. 390” consisted of 60 prints from the artist’s proofs. The “Beethoven” portfolio was printed by master printer Rupert Jason Smith for Warhol in 1987. The Ludwig van Beethoven portfolio was the last collection produced by Warhol before his death on Feb. 22, 1987. It consists of four different serigraphs, also known as a silkscreen or screen print, on Lenox Museum Board.

The artist

Illustrator, filmmaker, photographer, painter, model and even music producer Andy Warhol’s innovative approaches to art making still influence contemporary art and the culture. He challenged traditional boundaries between art and life, art and business and in all types of media. In the process, he turned everyday life into art and art into a way to live the everyday.

Ludwig van Beethoven was the ideal subject for Warhol in that both men revolutionized and reinvigorated their genres, becoming artistic legends and an inspiration for future generations.

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