February 15, 2019

Andy Warhol @ Kasmin Gallery, NYC

Andy Warhol: Polaroid Portraits
Kasmin Gallery, New York
Through March 2, 2019

Kasmin presents an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s polaroid portraits, on view at 297 Tenth Avenue, New York.

Beginning in the 1960s, Andy Warhol carried a camera with him almost constantly, obsessively documenting both his personal life and the daily goings on in his studio, The Factory. These images, artworks in their own right, also acted as visual references and formed the basis of many of the artist’s drawings, silkscreens, and paintings. Highlighting the integral contribution of photography to his art-making process, Andy Warhol referred to his Polaroid Big Shot camera (which he purchased in 1970) as his “pencil and paper.”

Taken between 1974 and 1985, the works feature notable figures such as Liza Minnelli, Muhammad Ali, Bianca Jagger, Dolly Parton, Debbie Harry, and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as a selection of self-portraits. Bringing together some of the most recognizable faces of an era, the exhibition illuminates Andy Warhol’s longstanding fascination with celebrities and famous movie stars—a motif that went on to define his oeuvre. Andy Warhol was sensitively attuned to the potential of the image—in particular, photography—to shape meaning and to both reflect and reaffirm the wider cultural obsessions of the American public.

Andy Warhol’s fascination with the transience of consumer and popular culture, as well as his concern with appearances and representation, make the polaroid a fitting medium. Notoriously socially awkward, Andy Warhol could use the camera to mediate his interaction with the world, helping him balance between inclusion and exclusion. These works, developed instantaneously, were born in a particular place and moment in time. Their rarity, coupled with the dwindling production of Polaroid film, capture a crucial period in Andy Warhol's practice and recall a nostalgic moment in the history of photography.