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ASU Art Museum offers glimpse into Warhol's everyday life

March 29, 2011

Today, some people document their every mood via Twitter.

Andy Warhol used a camera, and judging by his archive, he must have spent a fortune on film. Warhol began carrying a camera every day, in approximately 1974, snapping two rolls of film a day.

Warhol photographed friends, scenes and interesting objects from his everyday life, accumulating more than 28,500 photos before his death in 1987.

Forty of those black-and-white photographs are now on display in the Multi-Purpose Room of the ASU Art Museum in a show titled “Who, What, Where: Photographs From the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.” The exhibit runs through Aug. 6.

In 2008, ASU received 155 Warhol snapshots from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The foundation donated all of Warhol’s photos to education institutions across the United States in an effort to provide more access to the artist’s work for “study, review and enjoyment, and to draw attention to the lifelong commitment he had to the medium,” said Jean Makin, Print Collection manager and curator, Jules Heller Print Study Room, ASU Art Museum.

With his Minox EL and Konica FS-1, and his Polaroid, Warhol snapped photos of such “groupies” as Geri Miller, Maura Moynihan, Christopher Makos and Andre Leon Talley, and scenes such as monuments and the flea market in Paris.

Many of the photos of people were taken in Studio 54, said Diana Ledesma, an intern at the ASU Art Museum who wrote the explanatory text for the exhibit.

“Warhol created Interview magazine, based in a renovated power station, in 1969 to indulge in his fascinations with celebrities,” Ledesma said. She noted that Warhol wrote in his book “Exposures,” that he had a “social disease.”

Warhol wrote, “I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.”

Ledesma said that Warhol helped coin the term “superstar,” used to describe “the brightest and most powerful film, television and fashion celebrities.” Warhol, she added, also became one himself, after “multiple exhibitions, several books, two television shows and endless media coverage.”

Warhol moved to New York City after attending Carnegie Tech and got his big break on only his second day in the city.

“The art director of Glamour magazine, Tina Fredericks, gave Warhol an assignment to draw shoes − a perfect fit. His first published work appeared in the summer 1949 issue,” Ledesma said.

Makin said the ASU Art Museum has only one other Warhol work – a screenprint of a vase with flowers – “not a typical Warhol image.”

“Warhol was a tremendously influential artist to a whole generation of artists and art supporters and writers,” Makin added. “The black and white photographs offer a glimpse into his everyday existence; he thought of them as a visual diary, capturing who he had been with, what he was doing, where he had been. They are often the sources of images later seen in screenprints or paintings.

“Anyone who has studied Warhol will find these snapshots from his life fascinating. This type of collection normally would be available only to very few, larger institutions that could afford its acquisition. By distributing the enormous archive of Warhol’s Polaroids and black and white photographs to institutions across the country, the Warhol Foundation enabled more scholars, students and collectors access to this work.”

Hours at the ASU Art Museum are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information call (480) 965-2787 or to go