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.