Richmond Gets Some Warhol

via Art Daily

RICHMOND, VA.- The University of Richmond Museums is pleased to announce the recent addition of 153 original Andy Warhol photographs to the permanent collection of the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, gifted as part of the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the organization donated more than 28,500 original Warhol photographs valued at more than $28 million and divided amongst 183 college and university art museums in the United States. The University of Richmond Museums is honored to be selected as a recipient of this extraordinary gift.

The University of Richmond Museums will organize an exhibition showcasing the works in the spring of 2009. Warhol’s "Photographs and Pictures": Selections from the Gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is scheduled to be on view from March 20 to May 22, 2009 in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art. The exhibition will be curated by Lucy Green, ’09, art history major, University of Richmond, and will be the subject of her senior thesis project.

Green recalls the buzz and excitement among the students and museum staff when opening the gift for the first time. "I was only familiar with Warhol’s more popular and commercial prints," Green explained, "but these photographs capture a unique and personal glimpse into Warhol’s world." The collection allows her to explore themes such as Warhol’s ever-increasing preoccupation with fame, his use of the camera both as an equalizer and a social diary, the method behind his technical process, and finally, Warhol’s theories of art and business. Green states, "I feel extremely fortunate to be able to have this valuable opportunity to study Warhol’s original photographs with my senior thesis. My in-depth research should provide a foundation for curating and shaping the exhibition for the spring."

Executive director of the University Museums, Richard Waller notes, "We are greatly appreciative of the Warhol Foundation’s gift. The photographs provide a rare opportunity to view and study Warhol’s creative process and work. The photographs have already sparked much interest among our faculty, staff, and students."

The Warhol Photographic Legacy Program aims to provide greater public access to Warhol’s photographs that have remained largely unseen. Curator of the program at the Warhol Foundation, Jenny Moore, notes that these works demonstrate, "Warhol’s profound and frank engagement with the personality in front of the lens…his eye for detail, and his compulsive desire to document the world around him."

The University of Richmond received 102 Polaroid photographs in addition to 51 black-and-white silver gelatin prints made by Warhol from 1970 to 1987. Several of these Polaroid photographs served as studies for Warhol’s later works. For instance, Witch (1980) directly correlates with his later myth series of pop culture figures such as the Wicked Witch of the West from the film "The Wizard of Oz." Also, the black-and-white works, most of which are candid shots, provide a personal lens into Warhol’s life, social circle, and artistic milieu.

Warhol skillfully captured celebrities, socialites, artists, and models in his photographs. The image of Mick Jagger, Mackenzie Phillips, and Nicky Lane Weymouth exemplifies Warhol’s illustrious quote that, "a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous." Viewers may recognize others figures of the 1970s and 1980s from athletes Dorothy Hamill and Vitas Gerulaitis to designers Carolina Herrera and Stephen Sprouse to editor of Glamour magazine, Marguerite Littmann. Warhol also reveals the art scene of his time through portraits of contemporaries such as artists Roy Lichtenstein and Victor Hugo as well as influential curators and major art collectors. These noted celebrities paired with Warhol’s more personal acquaintances are some of the many subjects represented in the University Museums’ recent gift.

Founded in 2001, the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center houses the permanent collection of works on paper of the University of Richmond Museums and serves as a research center for the study and exhibition of prints, drawings, and photographs. With more than 5,000 works on paper in the collection by artists from the fifteenth century to the present, the Center promotes exposure to original works of art to the University’s students, faculty, and staff as well as the Richmond community and the region. Through research, programs, publications, and exhibitions, the Harnett Print Study Center encourages the study and appreciation of works on paper and the visual arts.