Chazen Museum of Art


Exhibition of Andy Warhol Photographs at the Chazen


Madison, Wisconsin, August 6, 2010—Andy Warhol was a relentless photographer of the people and places around him. He constantly documented the steady stream of friends, acquaintances, celebrities, and even strangers who came to his atelier, The Factory—a place both notorious and immensely attractive for its bohemianism. Between 1970 and his death in 1987, Warhol produced tens of thousands of photographs, many never made public. In 2007, the Chazen was one of 183 college and university art museums to receive a curated selection of more than 100 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white prints from The Andy Warhol Foundation. The Chazen is delighted to have a part of this immense oeuvre and will present many of the images in Andy Warhol Photographic Studies, on view October 9–December 5, 2010.

“Color makes it more like a photograph. . . . But in black and white it’s just a picture. . . . A picture just means I know where I was every minute. That’s why I take pictures.”—Andy Warhol

Using a 35mm camera to capture black-and-white snapshots of celebrity-studded social occasions, outings with friends, and the places he visited, Warhol spontaneously documented the world around him. In addition to candid photos, the artist took thousands of color portraits with Polaroid cameras in studio sessions. Some of his sitters—though by no means all—are famous, some are nude, some are in white makeup. They pose, over and over, at times shifting only slightly, as the artist seeks to capture something essential. Many Polaroids bear the same relationship to Warhol’s finished portraits as a sketch might to a painting by an artist of an earlier generation. They were often first steps in creating his iconic silk-screened prints of celebrities and popular consumer goods.

Art critics suggest that Warhol took multiple photographs (sometimes dozens) of the same subject in order “to reveal the true idiosyncrasies of his subjects.” The photo sessions seem to reflect Warhol’s theatrical artistic persona, in contrast to the taciturn character he presented to interviewers (sometimes going so far as to bring friends to speak for him). Warhol in the studio—composing his photographs and taking shot after shot, coaxing his subjects and directing his faithful assistants in the production of works of art—is a less familiar role. These Polaroid photographs reveal a glimpse of Warhol’s creative process.

When Warhol died, his will stipulated that a foundation be established as the primary beneficiary of his estate. The Andy Warhol Foundation’s mission supports the advancement of the visual arts, especially challenging or experimental work. In the last twenty years the foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to artists, and even a few curators of contemporary art, and broadened access to Warhol’s art. In 2007 the Foundation launched the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program and donated a curated selection of more than 100 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white prints to each of 183 college and university art museums—including the Chazen. More than 28,500 photographs were distributed to institutions around the country. As a university museum, this is a valuable opportunity to share Warhol’s photographic work and contribute to the ongoing effort to understand an artist who is too often dismissed as being most famous for his fame.

Reception food and photobooth sponsorship is provided by Fresh Madison Market.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council and Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibition Events and Programs

Lecture and Reception: Friday, October 15

  • 5:30 p.m. Lecture: “I told them I didn’t believe in art, that I believed in photography.” Reva Wolf, professor of art history, SUNY at New Paltz. Reva Wolf explores what photography meant to Warhol and its role in his artistic development.
  • Reception: 6:30 p.m. 1970s music played by Juke Box Bandstand—and a photobooth! Refreshments and a cash bar. Dress like Warhol or a favorite celebrity from a Warhol print and receive a party favor.

Lecture: Thursday, November 11
7 p.m. “Flash Forward: Instantiation and the Late Andy Warhol.” Michael Jay McClure, assistant professor of art, UW–Madison. The speaker will consider the volatile material the artist used at the end of his career and discuss how it worked against the perceived iconicity of Warhol’s oeuvre.

Film: Friday, November 12
7 p.m., Poor Little Rich Girl. 1965, 66 min., directed by Andy Warhol, with Edie Sedgwick
UW Cinematheque, 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
For Andy Warhol the “great stars are the ones who are doing something you can watch every second, even if it’s just a movement inside their eye.” He found his star in Edie Sedgwick, the leading lady of underground cinema.

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Contact: Susan Day, Editor, (608) 263-2068,

The Chazen Museum of Art is open Tuesday–Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to galleries and educational events is free. Museum Shop hours are 11 to 4 Tuesday–Sunday. The museum is located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. PLEASE NOTE: THE SOUTH (UNIVERSITY AVENUE) ENTRANCE IS CLOSED. Visitors can reach the north entrance from Park Street and the Humanities courtyard, or from Library Mall and the East Campus Mall. The north entrance is accessible to wheelchairs; an elevator is down the corridor to the right. Parking is available at the City of Madison State Street Campus Ramp (entrances on Frances and Lake streets) and under University Square. Metered parking is available in the UW lot 46 lower level. Evening and weekend parking is also available in UW lot 83 under Fluno Center, entrance on Frances Street, and in UW lot 7 under Grainger Hall, entrance on Brooks Street. The Chazen will provide sign language interpreters for associated programs by three-week advance request to Anne Lambert, Curator of Education, weekdays, (608) 263-4421 (voice).

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