Andy Warhol: Polaroids and Black & White Prints
Immediacy and impermanence are woven into Andy Warhol’s art, as reflected in his famous aphorism: “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Warhol was one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, and his conceptual influence on western art persists, even as some of his chemically fragile photographic legacy is literally fading before our eyes.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) exhibited Polaroid and black and white photographic prints by Warhol donated by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to PAFA–one of 183 institutions designated in 2008 to receive portions of Warhol’s artistic legacy as part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, honoring the Foundation’s 20th anniversary.
These photographs came from a period of Warhol’s life when he was involved in more explicitly commercial enterprises, from magazine publishing to producing television shows and music videos. Warhol used black & white photographs as a visual diary to document people, places, and events in his everyday life. The Polaroid portraits served as studies from which he also developed his more prominent paintings and silkscreen works.
Warhol was fascinated with glamour and fame, and through his portraits, he produced iconic, idealized images of the individual. Living in a world of celebrity and documenting its ever-changing cast of characters with the simplest of tools, Warhol recorded the known and the unknown – 15 minutes of fame for all.