LONDON.- The Photographers Gallery
presents the first major UK survey of Andy Warhols (1928 - 1987) extensive but little known 8 x 10 photographs. Focusing on the last decade of the Pop Art pioneers life, Photographs 1976 - 1987 features over fifty vintage black and white prints alongside a small number of Warhols Stitched Works.
Warhol is well known for using photographic processes as source material in the service of his canvases, most famously his polaroids. It wasnt until 1976, when he officially divorced his tape recorder in favour of his 35mm camera, that Warhol began taking photographs intensively for their own sake.
The photographs in this exhibition provide an insight into Warhols daily life depicting: people in the streets, parties, uninhabited interiors, cityscapes, signage, still life, consumer products and miscellaneous objects. As in his artworks, formal aspects and patterns in subject matter emerge, showing photography to be at the centre of Warhols thinking, looking and making.
Andy Warhols fascination with photography began at childhood when he received his first camera at the age of nine and started developing his pictures in his basement. In the 1950s, working as a commercial artist in New York, Warhol witnessed first-hand photographys increasing popularity in print media. In his diaries he went so far as stating: I told them I didnt believe in art, that I believed in photography.
In 1976, at the height of his fame as an artist, Warhol purchased a small point and shoot Minox camera. He was extremely excited by the shrinking camera technology and the freedom it afforded him. From then on Warhol was rarely without a compact camera on his person, often taking more than 36 frames a day. Already an avid observer and recorder, Warhol began compulsively shooting his immediate surroundings. He embraced the shoot now, see later nature of 35mm, and chose an average of five images from each film roll to have printed at The Factory, by Christopher Makos and later by Terry Miriello.
To demonstrate one of the ways Warhol dealt with this enormous body of images the exhibition includes a selection of Stitched Works, where multiple copies of identical images were sewn together and transformed into formal, structural compositions. Creating over 500 of these works between 1982 and 1987, the stitched photographs highlight Warhols interest in serial and repeated imagery.
Warhols radical use of the image helped pave the way for photography as a form of fine art. Photographs 1976 - 1987 marks Warhols adoption of the compact camera, an important development in his career-long endeavour to turn image making into a production line.