Focus on Andy Warhol

Focus on Andy Warhol

18 February – 31 May 2009

On Friday, February 1st, 2008 alumna K.C. Maurer (’84), made a stop at the Museum to drop off a precious package. Maurer, chief financial officer of the Andy Warhol Foundation, was on campus for an Alumnae Association meeting and took the opportunity to hand-deliver the much-anticipated gift of 153 original photographs by the legendary American artist. The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum was among a select group of teaching museums to receive these remarkable images through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Photographic Legacy Program. Warhol Foundation president Joel Wachs has noted that the aim of the Legacy Program is to provide greater access to Warhol’s artwork.

The photographs, both Polaroids and black and white prints, portray individuals whose likenesses were later recorded in paintings and prints by the noted Pop artist. Unknown models appear as subjects in the photographs, as well as celebrities like author Truman Capote, Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, designer Paloma Picasso, and archaeologist Iris Love.

“I told them I didn’t believe in art, that I believed in photography,” Warhol wrote in his diaries, and his prodigious output of Polaroid and black-and-white photographs proves his point. The artist was known for cultivation of celebrity and the famous pronouncement that everyone would enjoy 15 minutes of fame. As curator Wendy Watson notes, “These images offer a fascinating glimpse into both the Warhol social circle and the artist’s particular working methods. Multiple images of the same person reveal how Warhol visualized his models, captured them on film, and then, in many cases, translated their likenesses into prints and paintings. This gift offers an unparalleled opportunity to get an inside look into Andy Warhol’s creative processes.”