Friday, March 11, 2011

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

Upon entering the exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids, one feels 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. Cultural icons including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yoko Ono and Jane Fonda model youthful displays of vanity, showmanship and contemplation, engaging visitors and one another within the space of Danziger Projects’ small front room.

Even in the clean, white confines of a Chelsea gallery, the 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 an accessibility to the photographs that mirrors his connection to their recognizable subjects. The intimacy of the portraits is established upon this combination of popular media as well as the relatively commonplace appearance of the prints themselves. Their harsh lighting and plain backgrounds recall the aesthetics of a scrapbook, almost stark in comparison to Warhol’s celebrated iconographic screen prints. With their everyday associations, the photos feel more akin to keepsake objects than Fine Art museum pieces.

Uninhibited by filters of formal technique, styling and process, the Polaroids offer moments of genuine transparency between the artist, subject and viewer. The famous faces are allowed to speak for themselves, masterfully embodying their own compositions and creating a personal experience beyond the traditional roles of art and spectator. Here, thirty-eight "big" personalities reach beyond the confines of small formatting to create a collective discourse that sparks and then builds upon the recognition of its audience.

No comments:

Post a Comment