Andy Warhol Photography Exhibition – Adelaide

The Art Gallery of SA is holding a special exhibition which you can see from now until the 14th of May 2023, and it’s one for people of different ages to appreciate. For some it’s a good reminiscence of the 60s, 70s and 80s and iconic personalities of the time, and for others it’s a look into how the idea of fame and the forerunner of social media began.

Andy Warhol was an eccentric character, and his pop art style is something instantly recognizable and attributable to him. He worked in a variety of media including painting, sculpture and silk screening where he explored the relationship between art, advertising and celebrity.

The exhibition on display in Adelaide is called ‘Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media’ and it shows a side of the artist that was perhaps not as well known, his obsession with photography. One famous quote attributed to Andy Warhol in the 60’s was, ‘In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes’.

That’s probably actually generous these days with the fleeting nature of social media, where we can scroll through content in seconds and if we see something that particularly grabs our attention, we may hesitate enough to give a heart or thumbs up to something. It takes real connection and attention to elicit a comment, and all still in less than 15 minutes.

The exhibition features a selection of candid photographs of Warhol’s famous friends from the era in non-posed situations. The shots are of celebrities and the who’s who of popular culture of the time, in candid behind the scenes moments. It sums up the beauty of photography for me, when you can freeze a moment in time to hold and remember forever.

Many of the photos came about from people drawn into his circle, who hung out at his studio which was known as the Silver Factory, because of its interior of silver foil. Andy Warhol gave up on using a 35mm SLR camera because it was too complicated to work with, and instead picked up a polaroid camera and his obsession began. The photos became the basis for his paintings and screenprints.

The exhibition is not only photographs though, it also includes some of his experimental films and paintings including the iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. There are also photos by his collaborators, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe and Duane Michals. Christopher Makos was a photographer who worked with Warhol’s Interview magazine and an interview about his work life with Andy Warhol, features as part of the exhibition.

As part of Warhol’s films he loved making short silent screen tests of friends, celebrities and musicians where he instructed them to sit motionless and gaze directly into the cameras, promising the sitters exposure and fame.

It’s hard to think of anyone of the time not included in his photo snapshots. Amongst the faces are Mohammed Ali, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Rachel Welch, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Deborah Harry, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Jackie Onassis and so many more.

In the 70s and 80s he became a much sought after portraitist of society because of the idealized portrait screen-prints he made, which accentuated the lips and eyes, which worked extremely well for striking faces such as Liza Minelli and Deborah Harry of Blondie fame. These portraits were based on his Polaroid shots which because of the camera’s fixed focal length, meant he had to be standing no more than around 1 metre from the sitter.

In his lifetime, Andy Warhol had his critics, some of whom believed his works were superficial and commercial but there certainly wasn’t anyone else with a style and range of media like him. A fascinating character.

Andy Warhol died in February 1987 and in accordance with his will, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was created, with a mission to ‘foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process’. Today it is one of the largest grant giving organisations for the visual arts in the United States.

Fans of photography, celebrity, social media, and art will love this exhibition, don’t miss it!

Have I given you FOMO now? You have until mid-May to visit Adelaide and see the exhibition which costs $25 to see.



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