Warhol program hopes ARC’s display will interest students

Andy Warhol's self-portrait displayed in his 'pop-art' technique.

Andy Warhol is getting another 15 minutes of fame, this time at American River College.

The school recently received 150 original photos from The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. The Polaroid originals and gelatin-silver shots – a mix of celebrity photos, party scenes and still-lifes, — will be displayed at ARC’s Kaneko Gallery sometime next year.

“We hope this will be an educational opportunity for people to see not just the photos but also this is how the artist worked,” said Ken Magri, an ARC art history professor.

While the Warhol program is currently donating thousands photos, worth an estimated $25 million, to other museums, private collectors and schools, ARC is the only California community college to receive these images, according to KC Maurer, chief financial officer and treasure of the Andy Warhol Photo Legacy Foundation.

More than 180 schools that are scholarly in nature and have an interest in studying Warhol’s work have received photos, Maurer said. The program hopes that by giving the photos away, more people would be exposed to them and would develop a better understanding and appreciation for the depth and significance of Warhol’s work.

“(The photos) will be seen by exponential numbers of people, more so than if they had gone to for example to the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburg (Pa.) because there are only so many people that can visit the museum,” Maurer said. “The fact that they are spread across the country, we hope that a new generation of students will become interested in Warhol and his photographic message.”

The process of acquiring the photos took about three-and-a-half years, said Magri, who initially contacted the Andy Warhol Foundation after reading a news article that said that Sacramento State University as well as Chico State University had received photos.

“I felt left out, like the guy that didn’t get invited to the prom,” Magri said.

Born in 1928, Warhol later became one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century. Those familiar with the well-known artist usually think of his famous painting of a Campbell’s soup can. Warhol was also famous for his ability to make art out of the well-known faces of Hollywood celebrities and other socialites. He coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame” in 1968 when he said “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

Beginning his career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a household name in the ’60s when he started creating “pop art,” which featured renderings of “typical everyday items; a lollipop, clothes pin, or in Andy’s case, a can of soup” Magri said. “What Andy was doing was taking it off the store shelf and elevating it to fine art.”

He later experimented with avant-garde filmmaking, record producing, book writing, and, of course, the visual arts, which includes painting, photography and silk-screens. His work gained him a membership into highly diverse social circles, including the wealthy and media elite. His New York City studio, which was called “The Factory,” became a known hang out for many other artist and musicians, including Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.

Warhol, who passed away in 1987, took photos of many celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, and Mick Jagger. The celebrity photos that ARC received include Dolly Parton, Bianca Jagger, Maria Shriver, and Sylvester Stallone, as well as photos of buildings and nude male body parts.

In the art world, Warhol’s work continues to command high prices. In 2009, The Economist reported that a private collector paid $100 million for an acrylic-on-canvas treatment of singer Elvis Presley titled “Eight Elvises,” making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold.

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