Tens of thousands of unpublished pictures taken by Andy Warhol of celeb friends like Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger and Debbie Harry are to be made public for the first time in what is described as an unparalleled collection of the artist’s photography called Contact Warhol: Photography Without End.
The Andy Warhol Foundation has made more than 130,000 frames available for an upcoming book, exhibition and the digitisation for the general public of every single image – most of which have never been seen. The markings on 3,600 contact sheets show Warhol only printed less than 20% of his photos.
The project is headed by Peggy Phelan and Richard Meyer, arts professors at Stanford University, California, which acquired the archive from the Warhol Foundation. Meyer said that he was initially overwhelmed since the contact sheets were made by,
“arguably the greatest 20th-century American artist, they are valuable additions to the field of art history. It is Warhol as you’ve never seen him before. You’re seeing his daily life in a way that’s just never been possible before because these contact sheets have never been available to public view.
The contact sheets not only offer new and important insights about Warhol’s life and work, they also help clarify issues surrounding what motivated and preoccupied him during the last decade of his life.”
Warhol obsessively documented his life with recording of celebrities in his Interviewmagazine. He once said,
“A picture means I know where I was every minute. That’s why I take pictures.”
These pictures span the 11 years leading up to the artist’s death in 1987 like ones of Jon Gould, Warhol’s last boyfriend. Gould was a Paramount movie executive who died as a result of AIDS in ’86, a year before Warhol’s death following gallbladder surgery.
One of the book’s essays suggests that Gould had become an idealised, Christ-like figure for the artist. (The artist’s last series was The Last Supper.) Phelan said,
“There are these amazing photos of Gould draped on a clothes line… Warhol had a huge crush on him, although Gould asked Warhol not to be public about their relationship… There are gorgeous photos of Gould… who had a heartbreaking death… So it’s very poignant.”
The photographs will feature in a major exhibition that will run from September 29 to January 6, 2019 at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center. The accompanying book is out this September.
Launching concurrently with the exhibition after a two-and-a-half year digitization project directed by Cantor project archivist Amy DiPasquale, the collection will be made available to the public. The archive of contact sheets will be available through a searchable online database that will be accessed through the Stanford University Libraries, on Cantor’s website.
Visitors to the exhibit will be warned of,
“sexually explicit images that may not be appropriate for young viewers.“
Some of them feature Victor Hugo, a Venezuelan artist window dresser, one of Warhol’s close friends, having sex with different men, shot as source material for Warhol’s series called Sex Parts, featuring close-cropped views of the human body.
Phelan has decided to crop the explicit images to protect identities. (influenced by the #MeToomovement.)
“For me, it was very difficult to look ethically at printing images that haven’t been seen and that were taken in some cases 35 years ago. In the end, I decided not to show the faces of any of these men.”
In one of the book’s essays, Phelan and Meyer write:
“While he often asserted that his art could be made by anyone, the contact sheets make clear the depth and range of Warhol’s artistic power.”
(Photos, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; via The Guardian)
Speaking of Warhol and upcoming exhibits. This is a MUCH smaller undertaking but I have a small gallery above my studio and shop in upstate New York called Gallery 52. On September 15, 2018, I am mounting an exhibit called Warhol Ephemera of printed material from my collection, like the memorial poster I designed after Andy’s death that unexpectedly became the template for his gravestone.
Warhol Ephemera, September 15 – October 29, 2018 at Gallery 52. 4849 State Rt 52, Jeffersonville, NY.