Presented as part of the 2023 Adelaide Festival, the first exhibition in Australia to explore Andy Warhol’s career-long obsession with photography will open at the Art Gallery of South Australia in March.
Exclusive to Adelaide, Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media will reveal an unseen side of the celebrated Pop artist through more than 250 works, spanning photographs, experimental films, screenprints and paintings.
Decades before social media, Warhol’s photography was candid, collaborative and social, attuned to the power of the image to shape his public persona and self-identity.
A Social Media offers a fresh perspective on the influential artist, as well as behind-the-scenes glimpses into his own life and the lives of friends and celebrities, including Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan, Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Liza Minnelli, Lou Reed and Elizabeth Taylor.
Headlining the 2023 Adelaide Festival’s visual arts program, A Social Media brings together works from national and international collections, as well as AGSA’s own extensive collection of 45 Warhol photographs which will be shown together for the first time.
“Some 35 years after his death, this exhibition attests to Andy Warhol’s enduring relevance as an artist and cultural figure in an era defined by social media,” said AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM. “With cross-generational appeal, this is an exhibition of our times which begs the question, was Warhol the original influencer?”
Revealing Warhol from both in front of and behind the camera, the exhibition will also feature works by his photographic collaborators and creative contemporaries such as Brigid Berlin, Nat Finkelstein, Christopher Makos, Gerard Malanga, Robert Mapplethorpe, Duane Michals and Billy Name.
A Social Media will also include iconic Warhol paintings never-before-seen in Adelaide, including his famed Pop Art portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley from the 1960s, demonstrating how Warhol translated many of his photographs into paintings and screenprints.
“Photography underpinned Warhol’s whole artistic practice – both as an essential part of his working method and as an end in its own right. He took some 60,000 photographs in his lifetime,” said Julie Robinson, AGSA’s Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs, and curator of A Social Media.
“His candid images, which capture his own life as well as the lives of his celebrity friends, offer audiences a revealing insight into Warhol the person, taking viewers beneath the veneer of his Pop paintings and persona.”
Speaking at the exhibition announcement from AGSA, Henry Gillespie, Australian editor of Warhol’s magazine Interview from 1985-1989, and one of only two Australians to be invited to sit for a Warhol portrait said:
“I am delighted that the Art Gallery of South Australia will present an exhibition that looks at Andy Warhol and his photography,” said Gillespie. “Andy always carried a camera and would whip it out on occasion to record something or someone.”
“It was an aide memoire. In preparation for a portrait, he would shoot a roll of Polaroid film and lay the images out on a table, asking the subject which ones they preferred and focusing on what he regarded the ‘perfect shot’ for the silkscreen.”
“Andy’s portraiture was his way of giving prominent members of his audience a promise of immortality,” said Gillespie.
“It is thrilling to be working with AGSA to explore Andy Warhol’s ground-breaking work which speaks so immediately to everybody,” said Adelaide Festival Artistic Director, Ruth Mackenzie CBE.
“Today more than ever, with the popularity of social media, Warhol’s idea of 15 minutes of fame is incredibly relatable and this exhibition will be a must-see during the festival season next year.”
“a good picture is … of a famous person doing something unfamous. It’s about being in the right place at the wrong time.” – Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media opens at AGSA as part of the 2023 Adelaide Festival on 3 March 2023 and runs until 14 May. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au for details.
Image: Oliviero Toscani, born Milan, Italy 1942, Andy Warhol, 1975, New York, United States of America, pigment print on paper, 32.0 x 46.0 cm (image), 40.0 x 50.0 cm (sheet); Public Engagement Fund 2021, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Oliviero Toscani