At the Mishkin Gallery, March 27 – May 22, 2009
From 1970 to 1985, Andy Warhol took thousands of Polaroid photographs mostly with his Polaroid Big Shot plastic camera. He photographed people both famous and unknown, viewing all these images as his “sketches” or source material for future paintings and prints.
More than 100 of Warhol’s photographs, mainly Polaroids, but also black and white prints, will be on view at Baruch College’s Mishkin Gallery from Monday, March 27, through Friday, May 22, 2009. Opening reception, Thursday, March 26, 6 to 8 pm. The photos were acquired by the gallery via a grant from the Warhol Foundation and are part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Project. Never before seen by the public, these images provide an intimate glimpse into the mind of a celebrated artist at work.
“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty,” Warhol once said and indeed these photos reveal a profound and frank, albeit fleeting, engagement with his subjects. As he did in his more famous work, Warhol used repetition and ritual in his photographs, often snapping a dozen or more carefully posed images of the same individual. The effect was to undermine or destabilize the iconic status that a single portrait can create. This tactic also tended to reveal the true idiosyncrasies of his subjects.
Included in this small trove of Warhol’s photographs are images of Dolly Parton, Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Sylvester Stallone, but most of the portraits are of obscure or anonymous individuals. Warhol was, in fact, drawn to the pedestrian and commonplace as much as to spectacle and glamour, a characteristic particularly evident in his black and white prints. A study in casual spontaneity, these pictures attest to Warhol’s enduring fascination of the mundane. Many of his black are white prints are scenes of people, buildings or cars on the street. Collectively, they form a kind of visual diary of his comings and goings.
The Andy Warhol Legacy Project has donated nearly 30,000 of the artist’s photographs of university museums and galleries across the country, chiefly selecting institutions that do not have the means to acquire works by Warhol. The purpose is to disseminate awareness of this large, but relatively unknown body of Warhol’s work to a wide range of people and communities that might otherwise not have access to this material.
“Everyone Will Be Famous for Fifteen Minutes” was Warhol’s most famous adage. These photographs illuminate the essential truth of this proposition, while also creating a record of the gaudy, passing glamour of the 1970s combined with nostalgia for the Polaroid snapshot – a way of instantly capturing moment in time in that pre-digital era.
The Mishkin Gallery is located at 135 E. 22nd Street in Manhattan. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, noon to 5 pm; Thursday, noon to 7 pm. The gallery is free and open to the public.