Are you up for some star gazing? Not of the celestial kind, but more of the retro celebrity stars kind. If you would like to see the Hollywood stars, musicians, artists, and other stars of the 1960s through the eyes (and lens) of history’s iconic Pop artist, you might want to search for a copy of Andy Warhol’s ‘Exposures.’
In 1976, Pop artist Andy Warhol picked up a Minox 35 EL camera during a trip to Germany. American writer Bob Colacello, who was with him during the trip, recalls the artist’s love at first sight moment with the camera during their stop in Zurich:
“Thomas Ammann, who was working for Bischofberger then, came by Andy‘s suite at the Dolder Grand and immediately sent Andy into a paroxysm of envy when he pulled a sleek little black camera from his pocket and snapped a picture. It was the new Minox 35EL, then the smallest camera available that took full-frame 35mm photographs. ‘Where did you get that!’ Andy wanted to know. ’It’s so great. It looks like a James Bond camera. Aren’t you going to give it to me?” Ammann said he would try to buy one for Andy, but they were completely sold out in Zurich and St. Moritz. As soon as we got to our next stop, Bonn…we went to a camera shop and bought two Minoxes: one for Andy and one for me." – from Bruno Bischofberger’s Andy Warhol's Visual Memory
With this camera purchase, Warhol’s interest with photography was rekindled, friends saying he “divorced” his tape recorder and "remarried the handsome Minox instead. I couldn’t blame him though; as Colacello and others noted, it was the smallest camera on the market, handy enough for him to carry it around him easily (hmmm reminiscent of Rule #1 don’t you think? Could Warhol be possibly a lomographer in the making?).
So, enamored with his Minox EL, Warhol was soon spotted around the Factory and outside events sporting this compact beauty. He started shooting several rolls of film per week, taking photos of his friends, celebrities, Factory regulars, politicians, fellow artists, and others. Later, according to Swiss art dealer and gallerist Bruno Bischofberger, Warhol began choosing five photos from each roll to be printed.
It was also around this time that Warhol expressed interest in creating a photobook with Colacello:
“In Naples…one afternoon, as we took matching photos of the Bay of Naples, Andy said, ‘We should do a photography book together, Bob. We’ve got to take photographs whereever we go from now on. It’s work now, Bob.’ That’s how our next book, Andy Warhol’s Exposures, started.” – from Andy Warhol Superstars
Exposures was published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1979, containing text by Colacello alongside Warhol’s selected black and white photos. The original title was supposed to be called Social Disease (perhaps in allusion to Warhol’s quote that you can find here) but Colacello said they decided to come up with another one when people from B. Dalton Bookseller commented that they would buy fewer copies for their smaller stores if that was the title.
Although it could be pretty difficult to find decent copies of Andy Warhol’s Exposures today, it would obviously be worth the effort to get one’s hands on one, Warhol fan or not. It remains to be an interesting book that doesn’t only take us to a star-gazing spree in the Pop artist’s world with his celebrity friends, fellow artists, free thinkers, and collaborators, but offer a glimpse of the way he used the handy Minox camera to document the era that he partly defined.