Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Warhol at the Beach: Thoughts on the Modern Photographic Condition


Item(s) of interest: three gelatin silver prints by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), all 8” x 10,” from July 6, 1982, numbered FL05 .05034, FL05 .05036, FL05 .0537
© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Please do not download this image.


Warhol’s “Photographic Legacy”
In 2007, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts donated nearly 30,000 photographs made by the artist to more than 180 educational institutions.[1] The George Washington University, as one of those participants, received a curated collection of original Polaroids and black and white gelatin silver prints. While most of the Warhol photographs in our collection have been researched to a small degree, the group remains intriguing in the way it offers a semi-private look at the man who lived by and for popular icons.

Having donned cotton gloves to protect the photographs, I experienced our slice of the Warhol œuvre not only as a peek into some stranger’s photo album, but as a viewer distinctly aware of the photographer’s impulse to document his life.  According to the Warhol Foundation, the artist “often used these photographs as the basis for commissioned portraits, silkscreen paintings, drawings, and prints,” as well as a couple of book projects in the last decade of his life.[2] While looking through our collection, the Polaroids seem most like these preparatory studies, while most of the larger prints easily function as independent works documenting Warhol’s friends and activities. Except for prints of a street corner or a house peeking over a tall fence, the entire set is primarily people-driven. Both the Polaroids and the party candids demonstrate Warhol’s flair for directly interacting with his photographic subjects. The common conception of Warhol’s work may focus on his appropriation of photographic and commercial images, but his drive to photograph people around him gives nuance to the giant of Pop Art.

Three Seaside Moments
Three of the larger black and white photographs depict a compelling series of moments when Warhol and another man visited the beach in the summer of 1982. We can guess at the identity of this man since the last of the three is a cheerful close-cropped portrait as he smiles back at the camera with a striped sweatshirt draped over the top of his head. The other two, one horizontal and one vertical, show this man with the striped sweatshirt following a tire along the empty beach. While Warhol usually kept his relationships private, this man at the beach appears to be his boyfriend Jon Gould, who he had met two years previously in 1980.[3] Regardless of whether Warhol just caught some moments that interested him or whether he actively directed Gould to run after the tire, the resulting works express a carefree attitude. Still, since every photograph involves an arbitrary choice, Warhol must have taken care enough to snap the camera’s shutter and to develop the results. 

Warhol vs. Web 2.0
When looking at his body of work, scholars have asserted that Warhol’s interests often gravitate towards the intersection of fame, glamour, death, and the modern consumer culture of symbols of these concepts. Paul Mattick, in an essay on Warhol’s philosophy, discourages an overly cynical, consumerist viewing of the man and his works as some tend to follow. Instead he discusses how Warhol took such interest in “the gap that would always exist between the appearance and reality of wealth and power, and the fact that in the end you die.”[4] Many scholars identify this as the mindset behind his production (and reproduction) of images of Marilyn, Mao, and car accidents, as well as his urge to document his own social life through photographs. Douglas Fogle argues that, “What is clear from Warhol’s work is that his early paintings of celebrities were just as much ‘disasters’ as his bodies of more typically couched works such as the suicides, car crashes, electric chairs, and race riots.”[5] Throughout his career, Warhol held in common with America a “dual fascination with celebrity and tragedy.”[6] In this way, his later photographs of parties and glamorous people reveal his continued interest in observing fame before the fall.

Warhol was adept at what the Foundation calls “(analog) social networking,” and this tactic with people is manifest in his photographs and in their relation to our experience of photography in 2012.[7] Due to the number and variety of works, his photography exists as a sort of precursor to the widespread twenty-first century practice of creating and sharing photographs through websites like Facebook and Flickr. We cannot speculate whether Warhol would have taken interest in sharing such seemingly private works, but we do know that his artistic practice centered on creating art for the market. Thierry de Duve writes that, “Warhol [based art] on desire and thus on a principle of consumption.”[8] Similarly, websites like Facebook advance social connections through the photography, especially in the way “albums” of our acquaintances photographs advance upon individual users as a “feed” of images to be viewed and consumed.

Since the late nineteenth century, photography has provided the average person with a means for creating keepsakes of special events and personal images of friends and family.[9] However, with the development of an ever more transient Internet culture, individuals experience a flood of photographic information from each other, concerning everything from their dinner last Tuesday to their sanguine smiles at parties to their own artistic-cum-documentary images of their homes, neighborhoods, and adventures. In the late 1960s, Andy Warhol predicted the “fifteen minutes of fame” for everyone, but little did he know that his own near-obsessive photographic activity would be manifest as a large-scale social pattern, wherein everyday people become travel photographers, artists, and documentarians all at once, promoting their self image and their quality of life. Celebrity is also still of great interest in popular culture, but each day regular people export their own images of self-definition and glamorization for the world’s perusal.

In a way, social media-connected people of 2012 play with the idea of fame through the creation of masses of images for the kinetic platform of the Internet in a manner that is reminiscent of Warhol’s own interests in the production of physical art. Analyzing such social activity can turn into a pretzel of meta-thought, but some want to address how the Internet mobilizes this ephemeral pursuit of people’s “fifteen minutes” more than ever before. On that note, we conclude with the statement in a work by the street artist Banksy, that “in the future, everyone will be anonymous for [fifteen] minutes.”[10] This work uses a pink painted television to associate with the popular hunger for celebrity culture but also calls upon Warhol’s legacy to prompt viewers to wonder whether fame is truly the goal.

- M. Whitman

In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.
Banksy, In the future, everyone will be anonymous, on Orí’s Flickr streamDecember 1, 2007. 
Click-through for photo.
Links to Learn More:
The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
WarholStars.org
Information about Warhol on The Art StoryArtNet and, ArtStor 
Books by and about Warhol on Amazon

Warhol: Headlines - 2011-12 Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Andy Warhol: Shadows - 2011-12 Exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids - 2009-10 Exhibition at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art
Warhol vs. Banksy - 2007 Exhibition from Pollock Fine Art in London
WARHOL / SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964 - 2005-6 Exhibition at the Walker Art Center


Continue for Endnotes and Bibliography



Endnotes
[1] “Photographic Legacy: Nationwide Gift,” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, last modified 2011,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.
[2] “Photographic Legacy.”
[3] Gary Comenas, “Andy Warhol Chronology: 1980s +,” accessed January 31, 2012, http://www.warholstars.org/chron/1980Plus.html.
[4] Mattick, 980.
[5] “Andy Warhol’s First Silkscreen Paintings of Hollywood Stars Featured at Walker Art Center,” Walker Art Center Press Release, 2005. http://www.walkerart.org/press/browse/press-releases/2005/andy-warhols-first-silkscreen-paintings-of-ho.
[6] “Andy Warhol’s First Silkscreen Paintings...”
[7] “Andy Warhol Biography: Pop Artist and Cultural Icon,” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, last modified 2011,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.
[8] Thierry de Duve and Rosalind Krauss,  “Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected” (October 48 [Spring, 1989]), 3. http://www.jstor.org/stable/778945.
[9] Mia Fineman, "Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography," In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm (October 2004).
[10] “In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.” Digital photograph of original work by Banksy, JPEG on Flickr.com. Photographed on December 1, 2007, posted by “Orí,” December 2, 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ori/2082634062/.

Bibliography
“Andy Warhol Biography: Pop Artist and Cultural Icon.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts website, accessed January 31, 2012,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.


Banky Website. accessed February 7, 2012. http://www.banksy.co.uk/index.html.


Comenas, Gary. “Andy Warhol Chronology: 1980s +.” accessed January 31, 2012, http://www.warholstars.org/chron/1980Plus.html.


De Duve, Thierry and Rosalind Krauss.  “Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected.” October 48 (Spring, 1989): 3-14. http://www.jstor.org/stable/778945.


Fineman, Mia. "Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography." In Helibrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm (October 2004).

“In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.” Digital photograph of original work by Banksy, JPEG on Flickr.com. Photographed on December 1, 2007, posted by “Orí,” December 2, 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ori/2082634062/.


Mattick, Paul. “The Andy Warhol of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Andy Warhol.” Critical Inquiry 24, no. 4 (Summer 1998): 965-987. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344114.


“Photographic Legacy: Nationwide Gift.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts websote, last modified 2011, accessed January 31, 2012,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Warhol at the Beach: Thoughts on the Modern Photographic Condition


Item(s) of interest: three gelatin silver prints by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), all 8” x 10,” from July 6, 1982, numbered FL05 .05034, FL05 .05036, FL05 .0537
© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Please do not download this image.


Warhol’s “Photographic Legacy”
In 2007, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts donated nearly 30,000 photographs made by the artist to more than 180 educational institutions.[1] The George Washington University, as one of those participants, received a curated collection of original Polaroids and black and white gelatin silver prints. While most of the Warhol photographs in our collection have been researched to a small degree, the group remains intriguing in the way it offers a semi-private look at the man who lived by and for popular icons.

Having donned cotton gloves to protect the photographs, I experienced our slice of the Warhol œuvre not only as a peek into some stranger’s photo album, but as a viewer distinctly aware of the photographer’s impulse to document his life.  According to the Warhol Foundation, the artist “often used these photographs as the basis for commissioned portraits, silkscreen paintings, drawings, and prints,” as well as a couple of book projects in the last decade of his life.[2] While looking through our collection, the Polaroids seem most like these preparatory studies, while most of the larger prints easily function as independent works documenting Warhol’s friends and activities. Except for prints of a street corner or a house peeking over a tall fence, the entire set is primarily people-driven. Both the Polaroids and the party candids demonstrate Warhol’s flair for directly interacting with his photographic subjects. The common conception of Warhol’s work may focus on his appropriation of photographic and commercial images, but his drive to photograph people around him gives nuance to the giant of Pop Art.

Three Seaside Moments
Three of the larger black and white photographs depict a compelling series of moments when Warhol and another man visited the beach in the summer of 1982. We can guess at the identity of this man since the last of the three is a cheerful close-cropped portrait as he smiles back at the camera with a striped sweatshirt draped over the top of his head. The other two, one horizontal and one vertical, show this man with the striped sweatshirt following a tire along the empty beach. While Warhol usually kept his relationships private, this man at the beach appears to be his boyfriend Jon Gould, who he had met two years previously in 1980.[3] Regardless of whether Warhol just caught some moments that interested him or whether he actively directed Gould to run after the tire, the resulting works express a carefree attitude. Still, since every photograph involves an arbitrary choice, Warhol must have taken care enough to snap the camera’s shutter and to develop the results. 

Warhol vs. Web 2.0
When looking at his body of work, scholars have asserted that Warhol’s interests often gravitate towards the intersection of fame, glamour, death, and the modern consumer culture of symbols of these concepts. Paul Mattick, in an essay on Warhol’s philosophy, discourages an overly cynical, consumerist viewing of the man and his works as some tend to follow. Instead he discusses how Warhol took such interest in “the gap that would always exist between the appearance and reality of wealth and power, and the fact that in the end you die.”[4] Many scholars identify this as the mindset behind his production (and reproduction) of images of Marilyn, Mao, and car accidents, as well as his urge to document his own social life through photographs. Douglas Fogle argues that, “What is clear from Warhol’s work is that his early paintings of celebrities were just as much ‘disasters’ as his bodies of more typically couched works such as the suicides, car crashes, electric chairs, and race riots.”[5] Throughout his career, Warhol held in common with America a “dual fascination with celebrity and tragedy.”[6] In this way, his later photographs of parties and glamorous people reveal his continued interest in observing fame before the fall.

Warhol was adept at what the Foundation calls “(analog) social networking,” and this tactic with people is manifest in his photographs and in their relation to our experience of photography in 2012.[7] Due to the number and variety of works, his photography exists as a sort of precursor to the widespread twenty-first century practice of creating and sharing photographs through websites like Facebook and Flickr. We cannot speculate whether Warhol would have taken interest in sharing such seemingly private works, but we do know that his artistic practice centered on creating art for the market. Thierry de Duve writes that, “Warhol [based art] on desire and thus on a principle of consumption.”[8] Similarly, websites like Facebook advance social connections through the photography, especially in the way “albums” of our acquaintances photographs advance upon individual users as a “feed” of images to be viewed and consumed.

Since the late nineteenth century, photography has provided the average person with a means for creating keepsakes of special events and personal images of friends and family.[9] However, with the development of an ever more transient Internet culture, individuals experience a flood of photographic information from each other, concerning everything from their dinner last Tuesday to their sanguine smiles at parties to their own artistic-cum-documentary images of their homes, neighborhoods, and adventures. In the late 1960s, Andy Warhol predicted the “fifteen minutes of fame” for everyone, but little did he know that his own near-obsessive photographic activity would be manifest as a large-scale social pattern, wherein everyday people become travel photographers, artists, and documentarians all at once, promoting their self image and their quality of life. Celebrity is also still of great interest in popular culture, but each day regular people export their own images of self-definition and glamorization for the world’s perusal.

In a way, social media-connected people of 2012 play with the idea of fame through the creation of masses of images for the kinetic platform of the Internet in a manner that is reminiscent of Warhol’s own interests in the production of physical art. Analyzing such social activity can turn into a pretzel of meta-thought, but some want to address how the Internet mobilizes this ephemeral pursuit of people’s “fifteen minutes” more than ever before. On that note, we conclude with the statement in a work by the street artist Banksy, that “in the future, everyone will be anonymous for [fifteen] minutes.”[10] This work uses a pink painted television to associate with the popular hunger for celebrity culture but also calls upon Warhol’s legacy to prompt viewers to wonder whether fame is truly the goal.

- M. Whitman

In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.
Banksy, In the future, everyone will be anonymous, on Orí’s Flickr streamDecember 1, 2007. 
Click-through for photo.
Links to Learn More:
The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
WarholStars.org
Information about Warhol on The Art StoryArtNet and, ArtStor 
Books by and about Warhol on Amazon

Warhol: Headlines - 2011-12 Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Andy Warhol: Shadows - 2011-12 Exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids - 2009-10 Exhibition at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art
Warhol vs. Banksy - 2007 Exhibition from Pollock Fine Art in London
WARHOL / SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964 - 2005-6 Exhibition at the Walker Art Center


Continue for Endnotes and Bibliography



Endnotes
[1] “Photographic Legacy: Nationwide Gift,” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, last modified 2011,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.
[2] “Photographic Legacy.”
[3] Gary Comenas, “Andy Warhol Chronology: 1980s +,” accessed January 31, 2012, http://www.warholstars.org/chron/1980Plus.html.
[4] Mattick, 980.
[5] “Andy Warhol’s First Silkscreen Paintings of Hollywood Stars Featured at Walker Art Center,” Walker Art Center Press Release, 2005. http://www.walkerart.org/press/browse/press-releases/2005/andy-warhols-first-silkscreen-paintings-of-ho.
[6] “Andy Warhol’s First Silkscreen Paintings...”
[7] “Andy Warhol Biography: Pop Artist and Cultural Icon,” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, last modified 2011,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.
[8] Thierry de Duve and Rosalind Krauss,  “Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected” (October 48 [Spring, 1989]), 3. http://www.jstor.org/stable/778945.
[9] Mia Fineman, "Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography," In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm (October 2004).
[10] “In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.” Digital photograph of original work by Banksy, JPEG on Flickr.com. Photographed on December 1, 2007, posted by “Orí,” December 2, 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ori/2082634062/.

Bibliography
“Andy Warhol Biography: Pop Artist and Cultural Icon.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts website, accessed January 31, 2012,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.


Banky Website. accessed February 7, 2012. http://www.banksy.co.uk/index.html.


Comenas, Gary. “Andy Warhol Chronology: 1980s +.” accessed January 31, 2012, http://www.warholstars.org/chron/1980Plus.html.


De Duve, Thierry and Rosalind Krauss.  “Andy Warhol, or The Machine Perfected.” October 48 (Spring, 1989): 3-14. http://www.jstor.org/stable/778945.


Fineman, Mia. "Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography." In Helibrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm (October 2004).

“In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.” Digital photograph of original work by Banksy, JPEG on Flickr.com. Photographed on December 1, 2007, posted by “Orí,” December 2, 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ori/2082634062/.


Mattick, Paul. “The Andy Warhol of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Andy Warhol.” Critical Inquiry 24, no. 4 (Summer 1998): 965-987. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344114.


“Photographic Legacy: Nationwide Gift.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts websote, last modified 2011, accessed January 31, 2012,  http://www.warholfoundation.org/legacy/photographic.html.

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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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