14
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240’ at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California

Exhibition dates: 27th January – 20th May 2012

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ONE PERSON has found one of the images below offensive; so just for them please note that his posting has a PENIS and A-RRRRRR-SE rating. For all others, enjoy another spectacular Andy posting!

Many thankx to BAM/PFA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image (especially the two images directly below). View the complete The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

 

 

“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.”

.
Andy Warhol

 

 

 

Andy Warhol
Untitled
Pages 8 and 9 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

Andy Warhol
Untitled
Pages 38 and 39 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

“The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240. The exhibition features a selection of Warhol’s Polaroid portraits drawn from an extraordinary gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to the museum. From 1970 to 1987, Warhol, armed with his Polaroid Big Shot camera, captured a wide range of individuals – the royalty, rock stars, executives, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomized seventies and eighties high society, but also as many unknown subjects. From January 27 through May 20, 2012, BAM/PFA will feature a group of approximately forty of these photographs, including portraits of Caroline, Princess of Monaco; Diane von Furstenberg; and O.J. Simpson.

Famous for his contributions to Pop Art, Warhol used photography as a central part of his art-making process. Before turning to fine art, Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art, experiences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silkscreen paintings of celebrities, serializing pictures he pulled from magazines and press photos. In addition to using found images, Warhol eventually incorporated his own photography into his practice. In 1969 he launched inter/View magazine, which featured his photos of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions were a major source of his income, and many of his Polaroids would serve as the basis for these works.

While each of the images in Andy Warhol: Polaroids is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalizes the superstars and lesser-known subjects. To Warhol, they were all beautiful people. But even within this uniform staging, we see the artist finding numerous ways to create memorable, varied, and iconic compositions. Though these photos may be small in size, together the Warhol Polaroids provide a glimpse into the artistic process of one of the twentieth century’s most important artists.

From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took scores of Polaroid and black-and-white photographs, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silk-screen paintings, drawings, and prints. In 2007, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts launched the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. Designed to give a broad public greater access to Warhol’s photographs, the program donated over 28,500 of Warhol’s original Polaroids and gelatin silver prints to more than 180 college and university museums and galleries across the country. Each institution received a curated selection of over one hundred Polaroids and fifty black-and-white prints.

The number of images he took at each session varied as greatly as the figures he photographed. Repetition, a recurring motif in Warhol’s paintings, plays both a conceptual and practical role in his photography. By making several Polaroids, he had more material from which to work. By shooting at length, more about the sitter was exposed. Seen all together, the Polaroids destabilize the iconic status that a Warhol image assumes when displayed singly. On its own, a Polaroid image is fully identified with the artwork that ultimately grew out of it; the face depicted becomes a kind of signifier for larger cultural concepts of beauty, power, and worth.

Text adapted from “Andy Warhol’s Photographic Legacy,” in The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007 (New York: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc, 2007), 4-5.”

View the complete Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

Text and press release from the BAM/PFA website

 

 

Andy Warhol
Billy Squier
1982
Polacolor 2
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Andy Warhol
Daryl Lillie
11/1978
Polacolor 2
4-14 x 3-3/8 in
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Andy Warhol
Heather Watts
after June 1986
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

“From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took thousands of Polaroid pictures, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silkscreen paintings, drawings, and prints. Warhol captured a wide range of individuals with his Polaroid Big Shot camera. The royalty, rock stars, industrialists, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomized 1970s and 1980s high society, as well as unknown sitters, are repre­sented with a sense of dignity and verve. Warhol was interested in a new definition of ”Society” that emerged in this period. In the introduction to the 1979 publication Andy Warhol’s Exposures, the artist wrote:

“Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get into Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerful, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.”1

Warhol’s images not only documented, but participated in, the creation of this new social world, satisfying both the need of his subjects to be seen and the desire of the viewer to gain access to this milieu through the act of looking. Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art before turning to fine art, experi­ences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silk-screen paintings of celebrities, serializing pictures appropriated from magazines or press photos of the time. In addition to employing found images, Warhol eventu­ally incorporated photography into his practice and, in 1969, started a magazine (originally called inter/VIEW) that often featured his own photographs of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions became a main source of his income.

Warhol’s Polaroids are strikingly intimate, an effect achieved in part by his personal relationship with the sitters and in part by formal aspects of the images. The artist often provided a luncheon in advance of the photo session, establishing a bond with his subject and a tone for the shoot. In the resulting Polaroids, the sitter is in direct eye contact with Warhol and the camera. The strong sense of immediacy created by the sitter’s open gaze is enhanced by the tight compositions in which the subject, pressed up close to the picture plane, is isolated from any context. A feeling of vulnerability appears in some of the portraits (as suggested by the bared shoulders of Unidentified woman (blond with bangs), for example), indicating a willingness to be exposed as well as the seductive nature of the artist and the photo shoot itself. The closeness forged between photographer and sitter and captured by the camera offers an illusion of sharing these private moments and of entering into Warhol’s circle of beautiful people and their glamorous lives.

While each image is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalizes the celebrities and the unknown subjects of Warhol’s Polaroids. After all, to Warhol, they were all beautiful people. Polaroids of individuals who are not immediately recognizable pique our curiosity. Who is the enigmatic Frau Buch? Like many of Warhol’s subjects, she is photographed with a prop. The small dog that she hugs may not identify her, but it suggests a dimension of her personality. In other Polaroids, Warhol used props as identifying elements like the attributes in Renaissance portraiture – major-league baseball pitcher Tom Seaver is shown with his mitt and NFL legend O.J. Simpson clutches a football. The teddy bear in the arms of the subject of Unidentified girl (blue t-shirt with teddy bear) represents an aspect childhood that everyone can relate to, although the girl is actually a scion of the new high society: Jade, the daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger.

Warhol’s Polaroids were designed to be source material for his canvases. He would direct the sitter in a series of poses, which gave the artist ample material from which to create the subsequent silkscreen portraits. Subjects such as fash­ion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and patron of the arts Daryl Lillie are photo­graphed wearing thick white makeup, black eyeliner, and bright red lipstick that evoke the stage or a high-fashion photo shoot; however, the makeup also served to flatten the images for a smooth effect in the screen-print transfer. The Polaroid Big Shot’s strong flash overexposes many images and increases the contrast, an effect Warhol deployed in the subsequent silkscreens; the flash also seems to catch each sitter – celebrities and unknowns alike – in the sudden glare of a paparazzo’s camera.

Warhol’s Polaroids borrow from paparazzi and high-fashion photography and at the same time elevate an inexpensive, everyday medium to the realm of high art. Warhol embossed his name in capital letters in the lower right-hand border of most of the Polaroids, marking them as a painter would sign a canvas. For Warhol, coming from the world of advertising, this was also a kind of branding. He wrote of Jade Jagger: “She never calls me Andy always Andywarhol, as if it were one word – or a brand name, which I wish it were.”2 Warhol’s portraits confuse the boundaries of advertis­ing and art, high and low, celebrity portraiture and the depiction of everyday people, and even photography and painting. His subjects are perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flashbulb, their faces immortalized by Warhol’s style”

Fabian Leyva-Barragan, Curatorial Intern
Stephanie Cannizzo, Assistant Curator

 

 

Andy Warhol
Pia Zadora
1983
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Andy Warhol
Tom Seaver
1977
Polacolor Type 108
4-14 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Andy Warhol
R.C. Gorman
1979
Polacolor Type 108
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

1. Warhol, Andy and Colacello, Bob . Andy Warhol’s Exposures (New York: Andy Warhol Books / Grosset & Dunlop, Inc., 1979), p. 19.

2. Ibid., 28 – 29.

 

 

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

BAMPFA is located at 2155 Center Street
between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue, in downtown Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-0808

Opening hours:
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Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 9 pm

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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