The father of Pop Art is known for the vibrant bursts of color in his prints and paintings, and the iconic instant portraits he took of his fabulous celebrity friends. However, little is known of his photographic oeuvre. Now, his whole photographic archive has been made accessible to the public.
Andy Warhol is celebrated all over the world for his bold prints and paintings. His work made a striking stand against elitism in art by featuring mass and popular culture. Hailing from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, his life as an artist began in school. Originally intending to study art education in hopes of becoming an art teacher, he decided to study commercial art instead, and soon became an art director for a magazine. Afterwards, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in magazine illustration and advertising. In New York City, he founded The Factory, his studio as well as his very own party venue. He'd invite celebrities, artists, and collaborators over, and they'd become his subjects. Regular guests included Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, and Madonna.
Now, for the first time, you can take a look at his fantastic photographs, thanks to a brilliant archive set up by Stanford University. There are around 3,600 contact sheets and 130,000 images all from Warhol's 35 mm camera, consisting of mesmerizing portraits, striking New York City street scenes and dazzling nightclubs. Contrasting with his colorful pop art, Warhol's photography is all shot in black and white. To make the archive educational, informative and useful for researchers, art scholars and anyone interested in Warhol's work, project archivist Amy DiPasquale has compiled relevant descriptions for each contact sheet. She explains:
“Warhol took his camera with him and snapped images from the time he left his apartment, through midtown Manhattan, to work at his offices overlooking Union Square, to nights at uptown galas or downtown nightclubs... The images range from the mundane to the glamorous.”
The contact sheets document the last 10 years of Warhol's life. The images are searchable through various databases: Stanford Libraries' SearchWorks catalog, Spotlight gallery and Cantor Arts Center website.
To celebrate the public archive, the exhibition Contact Warhol: Photography Without End will be on display in Cantor Arts Center until 9 January 2019.