Andy Warhol was a relentless photographer of the people and places around him. He constantly documented the steady stream of friends, acquaintances, celebrities, and even strangers who came to his atelier, The Factory—a place both notorious and immensely attractive for its bohemianism. Between 1970 and his death in 1987, Warhol produced tens of thousands of photographs, many never made public. In 2007, the Chazen was one of 183 college and university art museums to receive a curated selection of more than 100 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white prints from The Andy Warhol Foundation. The Chazen is delighted to have a part of this immense oeuvre and will present many of the images in Andy Warhol Photographic Studies, on view October 9–December 5, 2010.
Using a 35mm camera to capture black-and-white snapshots of celebrity-studded social occasions, outings with friends, and the places he visited, Warhol spontaneously documented the world around him. In addition to candid photos, the artist took thousands of color portraits with Polaroid cameras in studio sessions. Some of his sitters—though by no means all—are famous, some are nude, some are in white makeup. They pose, over and over, at times shifting only slightly, as the artist seeks to capture something essential. Many Polaroids bear the same relationship to Warhol’s finished portraits as a sketch might to a painting by an artist of an earlier generation. They were often first steps in creating his iconic silk-screened prints of celebrities and popular consumer goods. Art critics suggest that Warhol took multiple photographs (sometimes dozens) of the same subject in order “to reveal the true idiosyncrasies of his subjects.”
“Color makes it more like a photograph. . . . But in black and white it’s just a picture. . . . A picture just means I know where I was every minute. That’s why I take pictures.”—Andy Warhol
Programming & Financial Support
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council and Wisconsin with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.