Western’s Collection of Works
by ANDY WARHOL
In commemoration of the 50th year of the inception of the Andy Warhol Foundation, which honors the legacy of American artist Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola 1928-1987), the Foundation donated 150 photographic works by the artist to Western Wyoming Community College. An equivalent gift was awarded to a total of 500 colleges and universities throughout the US. Western was pleased to be one of a very few two year institutes to receive this bequest.
As a young boy growing up in Pennsylvania , Andy’s older brother had opened a photo store. Among the many attractions for Andy at the store was a photo booth which took quick multiple images, with immediate development. In a pre-digital age, this was instant visual gratification. The store, close to where Andy grew up, was in a strictly working class neighborhood. Since its introduction into the US at the turn of the 19th century, photography almost immediately become the portrait possibility of choice for an ordinary citizen, as opposed to the oil paintings of the wealthy, emulating the aristocracy of Europe and elsewhere. Andy Warhol, known as much for his eccentricities as for his artistic brilliance became, paradoxically, the artist of every man, using photography’s middle class immediacy and techniques.
In later years, Andy used the concept of the photo booth – the most mundane of portraiture- as an art form and tool by which to make a living. Instead of the photo booth, he employed a Polaroid – a type of camera affording instantaneous results using a wet process. Andy would snap multiple images with no attempt to flatter the sitter. He heightened the sense of the camera as machine and attempted to dehumanize and equalize the subject by having them apply white face paint, Geisha like, to deflect intimacy.
The majority of works in Western’s collection fall into the genre of these preliminary Polaroids, which would later have been selectively made into an enlarged silk screened photo image with the vividness and starkness of the preliminary Polaroid translation from “reality”. Western is honored to have this collection of Andy Warhol’s making process which reflects a truly American artist who marked his time and place with an uncanny sincerity and lack of pretense.
Florence Alfano McEwin, PhD
Gallery Director, Professor of Art
For further information please contact Florence McEwin, Ph.D, Professor of Art at 307-382-1723.