From Liza Minelli to Debbie Harry, the Polaroids that inspired Andy Warhol's silkscreens – and became works of art in their own right
Andy Warhol's silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor went on to become some of the most famous artworks of all time. We are less familiar, though, with the Polaroids that the artist used as his reference.
Now an important part of his archive in their own right, the candid shots of some of the world's most famous stars have been made the subject of a new exhibition at New York's Danziger Gallery.
The portraits, taken by Warhol with his Polaroid Big Shot Camera in the Seventies and Eighties, include leading lights from the world of music, movies and sport, from Liza Minelli and John Lennon to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Muhammad Ali.
Candid: Pictures of Debbie Harry, from 1980, and Diana Ross captured in 1981, form part of an exhibition of Polaroids taken by Andy Warhol in the Seventies and Eighties
Famous friends: Countless stars posed for the artist, including Liza Minelli (left) in 1977 and Dolly Parton (right), whose photo was taken in 1985
The bare-shouldered portraits of a young Debbie Harry, Dolly Parton and Diana Ross are particularly intriguing, while snaps of Truman Capote in 1977 and Keith Haring in 1986 offer a glimpse into the creative circles the artist mixed in.
Indeed, also among the collection is a snap of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, as well as another of fellow Italian Giorgio Armani. Warhol's friendship with Diane von Furstenberg was better known, and her portrait features too.
Together but apart: John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono both posed separately for Warhol in 1971
Eighties sirens: The hair dates this series of Joan Collins in 1985 (left), Jerry Hall in 1984 (centre) and Jane Fonda in 1982 (right)
Fashion meets art: The late Gianni Versace in 1980 (left), friend of the artist Diane Von Furstenberg in 1984 (centre) and fellow designer Giorgio Armani (right) in 1981
The artist himself even features – albeit in some strange guises – one shows him in sunglasses wearing what he calls a 'Fright Wig'. In another he poses stony-faced in a curly wig with full make-up including bright red lips.
A press release from the gallery explains the significance of the Polaroids in the context of the rest of Warhol's work.
It reads: 'Warhol was first and foremost an
artist who relied on the camera as a personal recording device. If his
paintings largely repel the human presence, his photographs solicit and
Family resemblance: A fresh-faced Tatum O'Neal in 1986 (left), and her father, Ryan O’Neal, who was shot by Warhol in 1971 (right)
All-star line-up: Tina Turner, captured by Warhol in 1974 (left) and Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured in 1977 (right)
of these Polaroids were ultimately used as the basis of screenprint
portraits or Interview Magazine covers, it is these final painterly
renditions that are ultimately reproducible, endlessly repeatable, and
easily disseminated. The single Polaroid with no negative from which to
reprint alone exists as the un-reproducible piece in the process.
stand-alone images represent Warhol at his most tangible. He is there,
on the other side of the camera, inches from his sitter, plying and
encouraging and finding his own judicious angle.'
The artist as muse: Warhol himself even appeared in some Polaroids, from his Fright Wig of 1986 (left) to an untitled self-portrait in which he wears make-up (right)
Creative crowd: The artist's friends Keith Haring (in 1986, left), Truman Capote (in 1977, centre) also featured, as did longtime Senator Edward Kennedy (in 1979, right)
A significant number of the Polaroids
are dedicated to sporting figures, posing with their kit, be it a ball
in the case of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or OJ Simpson, or a tennis racquet in
the case of Chris Evert.
Dorothy Hamill, whose Polaroid is signed by her, holds one of her ice skates.
The gallery's release explains how the photos debunk the myth that claims Warhol was not even in the factory studio when many of his works were produced, describing him as 'an artist who relied heavily on human contact.'
Sporting stars: Dorothy Hamill poses with an ice skate in 1977 (left); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with a basketball in 1978 (centre) and Chris Evert with a tennis racquet in 1977
Snapped: Also in the series are an undated picture of Muhammad Ali (left) and Tom Seaver (centre) and OJ Simpson (right) who were both photographed in 1977
Kitted out: The same year, Warhol also shot Jack Nicklaus (left), Pel (centre) and Willie Shoemaker (right) in the same style, with some form of their kit in the frame
It adds: '[Warhol] needed his eye to be
present and engaged so much that he often called the camera strapped
around his neck his “date” at parties.'
The Polaroids will be displayed alongside
a second batch of black-and-white diary-style photographs that detail
the artist's personal trips to his second home in Montauk, and intimate
encounters with Elizabeth Taylor and Sylvester Stallone.
Warhol: Photographer: Photographs From The Hedges Collection will be at
the Danziger Gallery in New York from March 1 until April 21. For more
information, visit Danzigerprojects.com