London (dpa) - If Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was asked where he came from, he is said to have replied regularly: From nowhere. The Tate Modern in London is now unraveling this myth about himself, which Warhol himself promoted.

In a joint project with the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Tate show “Andy Warhol” is about one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, especially with the Warhol man.

"We were wondering what Warhol is currently doing," said director of the Museum Ludwig, Yilmaz Dziewior, the German press agency before the opening in London. The focus was on religion, life experience, sexual identity and migration background of the artist. "We understand his art better through biography," said Dziewior.

The topicality of Warhol's early works on topics such as homosexuality, subculture, police violence or racism - and his origin from an Eastern European migrant family - therefore have a clear response today. It is the first time that such a intensity has been intensified in a retrospective, Dziewior said. The exhibition will be shown in expanded form in Cologne from October 10th.

For the show in the Tate, which opens this Thursday (March 12) and runs until September 6, the curators have compiled around 100 works from Warhol's diverse oeuvre: from early portrait drawings to paintings, prints, films, and music and performance up to magazine publications and TV shows. For example, visitors can immerse themselves in the world of Warhol's multimedia happenings with rock tones from “The Velvet Underground” - but only after Warhol's silver helium cushions (Silver Clouds) have been boxed or kicked out of the way on the way.

A highlight is three of more than 100 wigs that Warhol had made and wore in shades from straw blonde to brown since he lost his first hair in the 1950s. They were carefully packed in cardboard boxes with fake snakeskin covers. Of course, the large series of portraits by Mao, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis are not missing, and the skulls, Campbell soup cans, Brillo boxes and green Coca-Cola bottles are also shown in London. The focus of the exhibition, however, is on the topics of lust, identity and belief that result from Warhol's biography.

It is no coincidence that Warhol Marilyn Monroe was immortalized in the silk print "Round Marilyn" like a "true icon" from Byzantine-Christian tradition, explained curator Gregor Muir. "He combined celebrity status and religion in American culture." Warhol's last series of works, the ten-meter-wide silk print “Last Supper” after Leonardo da Vinci, was interpreted by Muir as a “meditation on belief, death and mortality”. The work can be seen for the first time in Great Britain. A copy of the Leonardo painting was said to be hanging in the Warhol kitchen in Pittsburgh.

According to the curators, all of this is due to Warhol's close relationship with his mother Julia Warhola, who followed her husband Ondrej to the United States in 1921 via Gdansk, Bremen and Liverpool. The young Andrew (Andy) was born on August 6, 1928 in the industrial city of Pittsburgh. His parents came from a small village in the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Slovakia and were strict adherents of the Byzantine Catholic faith. Your U.S. immigration papers are also issued in London.

"The young Warhol could not escape the strong religious influences of his upbringing, his mother took him to church every day," said Muir. "He lived in a bubble of the deepest Eastern European religion and culture." Warhol was buried in a Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh in February 1987.