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Putnam's photographs of public sleepers shown with Warhol's Sleep film at Berman Museum
Michael Putnam, Patna, India, 1966. Gelatin silver print © Michael Putnam.

COLLEGEVILLE, PA.- From the mid-1960s through the 1970s, New York-based photographer Michael Putnam captured images of people around the world sleeping in public places. His sleepers, found sprawled in parks, curled up on benches, and contorted into all sorts of unlikely positions, were seen in passing, photographed, and left to sleep on. Putnam’s distinctive photos, which have been called “rich” and “profound,” are at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art in Collegeville, Pa., accompanied by an excerpted DVD presentation of Andy Warhol’s legendary film Sleep (1963).

Michael Putnam, now 77, is celebrated for his visual essays on communities around the globe. His projects have focused on such topics as family life in Tokyo, Hindu customs along the Ganges River in India, and fading aspects of small-town American life. A book of his photographs of old-fashioned cinemas in states of decay, Silent Screens: The Decline and Transformation of the American Movie Theater, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in July2000. Exhibitions of the photographs of movie houses were held at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

At the Berman, Putnam’s humorous and poignant photographs of dozing city-dwellers are paired with a presentation of Warhol’s first film, also called Sleep. But unlike the photographs, which document public sites and anonymous individuals, Warhol’s Sleep is an intimate, real-time portrait of the poet John Giorno at rest, a landmark of conceptual cinema.

A special lecture on Warhol’s film work by Geralyn Huxley, Curator of Film and Video at the Andy Warhol Museum (one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Pa.), will be held on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. A one-night, big-screen presentation of Warhol’s Sleep in its entirety (5 hours, 21 min) will immediately follow Huxley’s lecture.

Also at the Berman Museum: 77 Portraits, on display until Sept. 21, bringing together 77 works across a range of mediums and time periods, all of which feature the human face or figure. The works on display vary from a seventeenth-century oil painting to the earliest types of photographs, by artists both anonymous and universally acclaimed. Together they demonstrate that across the ages, the urge to make pictures of people—to make portraits—endures. Artists include Dali, Man Ray, Giacometti and Lichtenstein.

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