The Tommaso Calabro Art Gallery hosts, from 7 September to 23 October, Instant Warhol, a collection of photographs and Polaroids that Andy Warhol has made in the last twenty years of his life. An opportunity to learn more about a less known but at the same time integral aspect of the artist’s practice and personal experience most iconic of the twentieth century.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with James R. Hedges, IV, now considered the most important private collector of Andy Warhol photographs in the world.
Andy Warhol and the camera. Photos that become works of art, means of experimentation and biographical documentation
Andy Warhol was the creator of some of the most recognizable images in Western culture, experimenting with a variety of media. Photography, however, has proved to be a natural medium for an artist whose research was centered on the cancellation of the artist’s presence, the objectification of the subject e the stripping of the work of art from the authorial intention.
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A process of “cancellation” that allows at the same time to look directly through Warhol’s eyes through the camera lens, displaying the gesture of the click. The shots presented in Instant Warhol they are works that reveal a deeply personal vision of reality, showing how the artist related to both the glamor and the ordinary world around him. Warhol has used photography from the earliest stages of his career, when he used to appropriate shots published in magazines and advertisements, and broadcast by the media to create serigraphs that have become part of the canon of art history.
Wherever he went, he was carrying a Polaroid, his tireless companion, whom he defined as “A good reason to get out of bed in the morning.” In 1971 Warhol began using the Polaroid Big Shot, an inexpensive fixed-focus instant camera that revolutionized his production. Designed for making portraits, the Big Shot perfectly synthesized Warhol’s two main lines of research in a single object: his obsession with stardom and the mass production of the work of art. During an average session, Warhol took dozens of Polaroids, and then selected one to use as a starting image for the creation of large-format portraits-serigraphs.
Instant Warhol. The crucial role of photography in Warhol’s production and for the definition of Pop aesthetics
The exhibition at the Tommaso Calabro Art Gallery collects one selection of Polaroid and silver gelatin prints featuring friends from Warhol’s circle, movie stars, celebrities and members of the international jet set. The entrepreneur Gianni Agnelli, the actress Bianca Jagger, the singer Grace Jones, and the fashion designers Halston, Gianfranco Ferrè and Diane von Furstenberg. They are included in Instant Warhol some self-portraits by Warhol himself, in which the artist appears wearing a drag queen make-up or wearing her legendary blonde wig.
The artist’s exploration of gender identity is exemplified by a group of Polaroids from the explicit series Sex Parts and Torsos, in which naked parts of the male body appear at waist level, and from the series Ladies and Gentlemen, commissioned by the Turin art dealer Luciano Anselmino in 1975. Anselmino requested 105 paintings of transvestite men from Warhol, but the artist made more than double them based on about five hundred Polaroids of fourteen black and Hispanic drag queens recruited in the streets of the West Village , around the Chelsea Piers and in bars like Gilded Grape in Hell’s Kitchen. Finally, some Polaroids depicting bananas, shoes and fragments of city life reveal the wide spectrum of subjects with which Warhol interacted through the camera.
Per Warhol photographs are works of art, means of experimentation and biographical documentation, while the camera was his personal recording device of the outside world. The variety of subjects, which Warhol objectified, made glamorous, heroized and ironized about, reveals his fascination for fame and gender identity, his conception of friendship and collaboration, as well as the ongoing investigation into the concepts of originality. and authorship of the artwork. The exhibition wants underline the crucial role that photography played in Warhol’s work and life for defining a distinctly Pop aesthetic.