Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big Shots: Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of Celebrities, January 8 – February 26, 2011

The sensation one feels upon entering the exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids currently installed at Danziger Projects is that the art on view may actually be viewing him. Tiny eyes stare, seduce and surround the spectator from four walls, evoking moods as diverse as the row of celebrity faces. Icons including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yoko Ono and Jane Fonda model youthful displays of showmanship and genuine contemplation, posturing as if to engage visitors and one another within the space of the gallery’s small front room.

However neatly framed and contextualized in the clean, white surroundings of a Chelsea gallery, the seemingly improvised snapshots of Warhol’s acquaintances and eccentric self-portraits maintain the informality of their original size and picture quality. The viewer’s familiarity with the Polaroid print as a medium lends accessibility to the photographs and creates a personal connection that mirrors his attachment to their subjects. Harsh lighting and plain backgrounds recall the aesthetics of a scrapbook, almost stark in comparison to Warhol’s celebrated iconographic screen prints. Uninhibited by filters of formal technique, styling and process, the Polaroids offer moments of intimate transparency that let the artist and his larger-than-life subjects speak for themselves. Thirty-eight "big" personalities reach beyond the confines of small formatting to create a collective discourse that sparks recognition and then builds upon the sentimentality of its audience.


  1. The first sentence is a little to long and awkward. I like that you throws us into the situation with your experience of entering the gallery, the sentence “tiny eyes stare…” could be a great start of the text, and then you could follow up with the facts.

    The first sentence in the second paragraph is also to long and somewhat confusing. If your point is that the photos, even in a white box context, still are informal, you could make that statement clearer. Why is the setting of a white Chelsea gallery a problem? The rest of your argumentation about that the Polaroid’s intimacy and vulnerability is clear and beautiful written!

  2. As a starters, the beginning of your opening sentence is a tad bit too long and isn’t as gripping an opening as you may have intended it to be. Perhaps begin your sentence with “tiny eyes stare, seduce, and surround remark” that will certainly catch the readers’ intrigue.

    You concisely create a balanced relationship between the gallery settings and the works without falling into the trap of prioritising the gallery space. The reader thus is afforded a comprehensive understanding of how each factor corresponds with one another.

    You smartly continue this relationship as your opening topic sentence for the second paragraph but unfortunately, it too is unnecessarily long and unclear. I don’t think you assert any real point by stating the informality of their execution and presentation. What is valid and highly informative (and thus should be written into the first sentence of your second paragraph) is the personal connection established by the artist through the contextualised neat framing, and the Polaroid’s tactile quality as a print medium.

    The rest of the analysis is accurately and objectively efficient. What is important to point out is, while you have composed strong bodies within your paragraphs…it is the opening sentences that can make or break your body paragraphs. Just a few tweaks with sentence length and clarity and this review becomes an informative piece of writing.