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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Fine Arts

Rare Warhol photographs now available for public viewing

Photographs by artist Andy Warhol are now available for view upon request in the Special Collections Section of the MD Anderson Library. The collection includes these formal portraits of Warhol’s friends and celebrities. | Cristobella Durrette/The CougarOver one hundred photographs taken by pop artist Andy Warhol are now available for viewing at the University of Houston’s M.D. Anderson Library in the Special Collections room.

The 149-piece collection is comprised of 99 Polaroids and 50 silver gelatin prints, all of which were taken by Warhol between 1975 and 1985. Since being gifted to the Public Art of the University of Houston system in 2008, curated selections of the photographs have been exhibited in the Blaffer Art Museum and the Student Center.

This is the first time that the entire collection of photographs has been available for research and public perusal.

“The difference is that it (the previous exhibits) was heavily curated, you only get to see some of the photographs,” Mary Manning said. Manning is the University archivist and curator of the Performing and Visual Arts collection within Special Collections. “Here, you get to curate the experience yourself.”

The curated selection of photographs was gifted to the University by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The donation was made as part of an initiative by the Photographic Legacy program, which sought to allow public access to Warhol’s lesser-known photographic works.

“It is our hope that this gift will provide greater access to this important body of Warhol’s work, allowing it to be viewed and studied by a broad, diverse public,” Joel Wachs said in a correspondence with the University. Wachs was the president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts when the photographs were given to UH.
This body of Warhol’s work features a variety of portraits, candid shots, and still lifes of his friends and celebrities. Subjects depicted include Princess Caroline of Monaco, Julian Schnabel (a UH alumnus), and Pia Zadora, among others.

“It (Warhol’s photography) definitely seems like an extension of his interest in celebrity and fame and connecting with other celebrities and other artists,” assistant photography professor Keliy Anderson-Staley said. “It definitely reveals his obsessive-compulsive nature in terms of wanting to document his life and the lives of his friends and the lives of the famous people he idolizes.”

Warhol’s photographs also extend beyond an interest in documenting the world around him. Some images also served as templates for his silk screen works, depicting his process as an artist.

“I think that the more that you look at his polaroid images and his photos, the more you see them as underlying the silk screens,” Anderson-Staley said.

The photographic documentation of Warhol’s artistic process enhances and enriches the University of Houston’s already diverse art collection, curator of the University of Houston System Public Art Collection Michael Guidry said.

“We don’t have this type of photography in our collection, where it’s this kind of process photography or somewhat documentary photography,” Guidry said. “Having that available to the general public out of curiosity, but also to scholars for research, is really important for us and for the community.”


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