ANDY WARHOL AT VANDERBILT
January 2, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An exhibition of Polaroids and black-and-white photographs by Andy Warhol of his friends and clients kicks off the 2018 season at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. FAMOUS! (AND NOT-SOFAMOUS): POLAROIDS BY ANDY WARHOL gives a glimpse into Warhol’s creative process and the people in his life. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 11 from 5 to 7 pm in Cohen Memorial Hall in conjunction with the opening of LOOKING BACK (LOOKING FORWARD): THE BLACK MOUNTAIN EXPERIENCE. Both exhibitions will be on view through March 2, 2018, with a closure January 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall at 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 11 am–4 pm, Weekends 1–5 pm. Admission and all events are free and open to the public.
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. Some began as magazine assignments (many for his editors at Interview), album covers for musical artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, and Debbie Harry, or advertising campaigns including those for Absolut Vodka.
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 more than 28,500 of Warhol’s original Polaroids and gelatin silver prints to college and university museums and galleries across the country. Each institution received a curated selection of more than one hundred Polaroids and fifty black-and-white prints.
FAMOUS! (AND NOT-SO-FAMOUS): POLAROIDS BY ANDY WARHOL is Vanderbilt’s largest exhibition drawn from this 2008 gift. The Polaroid photographs feature celebrities such as Dolly Parton, O. J. Simpson, Bianca Jagger, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as lesser-known individuals who paid Warhol on commission, seeking his own fame to validate theirs. In contrast to Warhol’s studies for these formal portraits, his black-and-white prints reveal the private side of the artist’s life, much like a visual diary. These photographs include a number of celebrities from Warhol’s circle, among them Sylvia Miles, the female lead opposite Dustin Hoffman in the 1969 cult classic Midnight Cowboy; Jane Holzer, a central figure in Warhol’s Factory, his New York City studio; Henry Geldzahler, Metropolitan Museum of Art curator in the 1960s and ‘70s and early champion of Pop art; music and film stars Dolly Parton and Olivia Newton-John; John Gould and Sam Bolton, both Warhol’s boyfriends at different times; a wide range of shots Warhol took at parties, and many others.
In addition to exploring the idea of fame and the creation of celebrity identity, the exhibition illustrates Warhol’s working methods in a number of ways. The two models of Polaroid camera that he used will be on view: the Big Shot and the SX 70. The Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has also given the Fine Arts Gallery several additional works of art in recent years. One of these, Shoes, 1980, a captivating screen print made more-so by Warhol’s use of diamond dust in its creation, also will be exhibited to show how he used photographs to create a final work of art. At a special event on January 25, students, too, will be encouraged to think about the role of photography in creative endeavors, friendships, and the construction of fame, by taking their own Polaroids to add to the exhibition.
The exhibition includes:
- Forty-two Polaroids
- Eighteen gelatin silver prints
- One Warhol screen print, also a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
- Polaroid cameras like the ones Warhol used
- After January 25, Polaroids of current Vanderbilt students
The second in a three-part series on portraiture, FAMOUS! (AND NOT-SOFAMOUS): POLAROIDS BY ANDY WARHOL is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director, with support provided by the Dr. and Mrs. E. William Ewers Gift for Fine Arts.
For more information on visiting the gallery, see Vanderbilt.edu/gallery. Visitors to the opening reception may park, free of charge, anywhere in Lot 95, accessible from 21st avenue south.