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Prague goes Pop

Czechs relish their first opportunity to see Andy Warhol's films.

A student writes notes next to a self-portrait of U.S. artist Andy Warhol at the exhibit "Warhol on Warhol" at Madrid's Casa Encendida Cultural Centre Nov. 23, 2007. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

PRAGUE — Sometimes what is old in the West is new in Eastern Europe, even 20 years after the fall of communism.

In its first month, more than 10,000 people visited an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s films now showing at Prague’s Rudolfinum Galerie, according to Zuzana Kosarova, one of the organizers.

Landing the exhibition meant an arduous three-and-a-half year battle to agree on a date, she said. Organizers were persistent because Warhol's “work is very famous here,” she said, adding that Czechs have “read or heard about his films but haven't seen them,” until now.

Warhol died in 1987, two years before the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. He was born in Pittsburgh, but his family background is Ruthenian, a region in Eastern Europe that comprises Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia and Poland. Even though Warhol himself never visited his ancestral homeland, there is a museum dedicated to him in eastern Slovakia.

The exhibition, “Andy Warhol's Motion Pictures,” features a series of four-minute screen tests with instantly recognizable celebrities, such as Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed, Salvador Dali and Susan Sontag. But it also features then-celebrities such as Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick and Ivy Nicholson, regulars at The Factory, where Warhol did much of his work in New York City during the 1960s.

Also featured are a series of non-narrative films focusing on activities such as “Haircut,” “Eat,” “Sleep,” “Kiss,” and, um, “Blow Job.”