I Am a Camera: Photography of Andy Warhol

Tuesday, September 9, Noon to Sunday, October 19, 2008, 4 pm
Current Students
The public

I AM A CAMERA: Photography of Andy Warhol

September 9 -October 19, 2008

Rarely seen Warhol photographs on display at Wright State in September

What do you know of artist Andy Warhol? Perhaps the paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, the silkscreen of the iconic Marilyn Monroe and the superstar glam of The Silver Factory.

But do you know his photographs?

From September 9 through October 19, 2008, rarely seen Polaroids and photographs taken by Warhol will be on display at the Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University.

The exhibition, I AM A CAMERA: Photography of Andy Warholwill offer visitors a chance to be a voyeur into Warhol's artistic process, his life and the glittering New York scene of bohemian street people, intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats in which Warhol was immersed while making his multifaceted art.

“Both sets of photographs greatly underscore the importance photography played in Warhol's image making process,” said Tess Cortés, Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries Coordinator.

The 155 Polaroids and silver gelatin prints to be displayed were donated to Wright State’s permanent collection in October 2007 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts as part of its 20th Anniversary Photographic Legacy Program. Wright State received the works during the foundation’s unprecedented gift of 28,543 photos to 183 college and university art museums around the country.

The program’s goal is to provide greater access to Warhol’s artwork and process and to enable a wide range of people to view and study this important but relatively unknown body of Warhol’s work, according to the foundation.

An obsessive photographer, Warhol took more than 100,000 photographs between 1977 and 1987, most with his beloved SX70 Polaroid camera (which Polaroid kept in production just for Warhol) and larger-format black and white prints with an SLR 35 mm camera. Some Polaroids served as source material for large, silk-screened portrait paintings for which Warhol is famous. These photographs range from well-known screen and stage actors to unidentified children of acquaintances or patrons.

“The black and white snapshots capture both moments of revelry and quiet, and offer a fascinating glimpse of the people and places of Warhol's life,” Cortés said. “In the end, some of the most captivating photographs are not the celebrities, but rather those of everyday objects and people.”

While Warhol became a pioneer of pop art for turning photographic images from advertising and journalism into his celebrated silkscreen paintings, his photographs served as their own documents during a time when photographs were ephemeral pieces not considered marketable works of art, according to Cortés.

Warhol turned the traditional discipline of portraiture on its ear, making it much more akin to snapshots rather than high art, saying, “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.”

“I told them I didn't believe in art, that I believed in photography,” Warhol said.

I AM A CAMERA comes on the heels of what would have been Warhol’s 80th birthday in August. The Wright State exhibition runs concurrently with an exclusive United States’ exhibition of Warhol’s work at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus called “Other Voices, Other Rooms” and begins September 15.

Because of the sensitivity of the photos, the art can only be on display every one or two years. After the exhibition, the photos will remain part of the university galleries’ teaching collections and can be viewed upon request.

During the exhibit, visitors can have their photos taken in a 1960s-style instant photo booth and display the photos on a gallery wall for their “fifteen minutes of fame.”

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