Over 100,000 unseen Andy Warhol photographs to be made public

Over 100,000 unseen Andy Warhol photographs to be made public

Andy Warhol once said, ‘My idea of a good picture is one of a famous person doing something unfamous.’ It’s a sentiment that couldn’t be more apparent in a trove of over 130,000 photographic exposures made by the artist from 1976 until his death in 1987.

Acquired by Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center from The Andy Warhol Foundation in 2014, the collection of 3,600 contact sheets and corresponding negatives is set to go on show at Cantor at the end of September. Despite shooting a roll of film or more a day, Warhol only printed under a fifth of the photographs he took. The exhibition will be the first time many of these images of Warhol’s famous social circle will be seen by the public.

The pictures satiate our voyeuristic appetite for celebrities and artists with their guard down, with snapshots of young artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and stars like Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, and Dolly Parton. Look carefully and you’ll also find candid photographs of Debbie Harry, Nancy Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Truman Capote.

Contact sheet of thoto shoot with Andy Warhol with shadow

Contact Sheet [Photo shoot with Andy Warhol with shadow], 1986, by Andy Warhol, gelatin silver print. Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

‘Whether commenting on sex, money, physical appearance, or social standing, the artist sized up his friends and acquaintances, as well as himself, with merciless precision,’ says Richard Meyer, who has curated the show with fellow Stanford professor Peggy Phelan. ‘This exhibition allows viewers to experience Warhol’s photography in a depth and detail never before possible.’

‘Contact Warhol: Photography Without End’ will also trace the artist’s fascination with the gay culture of the 1970s and 80s. Photographs of drag queens and Fire Island parties will feature alongside the artist’s rarely-seen, sexually explicit images. Photographs of the artist’s boyfriend, Jon Gould – an executive at Paramount Studios who died as a result of AIDS in 1986 – will also be exhibited.

Opening in tandem with the exhibition is a digitisation project helmed by Cantor project archivist Amy DiPasquale, which will make the centre’s collection of Warhol’s photographic work available to the public. The archive of contact sheets and negatives will searchable through an online database on the Stanford University Libraries system, and on the Cantor website by the end of the year. §

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