Andy Warhol Portraits Go Public

25 Jan
2013

by Jesse Dorris | Friday, January 25, 2013

William John Kennedy; Homage to Warhol’s Birmingham Race Riot; East 47th Street Factory, New York City; Gelatin Silver Print; 22 x 28 inches; 1964/2012.

Five photos of Andy Warhol posing inside of and around some of his most famous work sat in storage for almost fifty years, as the artist’s status grew from provocateur to prophet to icon. Now The Andy Warhol Museum has produced a limited-edition portfolio of the William John Kennedy prints in collaboration with KIWI Arts Group. “My idea of a good picture,” Andy Warhol once said, “is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.” These must qualify.

The images, says Patrick Moore, The Warhol Museum’s deputy director, are not only “beautiful photographs in their own right, but also reveal Warhol during his most important creative period.” Snapped in 1964, when Warhol had just established his Factory, the photos show “Warhol interacting with his Marilyn, the flower paintings, and self-portraits—some of the most enduring images in art history,” explains Moore.

Homage to Warhol’s Marilyn depicts Warhol in the doorway to a fire escape, an exit sign floating above him like a beacon. He poses behind an acetate used in his “Shot Marilyns” silk-screens. The two faces—Marilyn’s heavily made-up and mythological, his own timid and almost fearful—merge and separate, in and out of focus, a chilling joining of American idols.

Others show Warhol advertising his work on a sandwich board. In Homage to Warhol’s Birmingham Race Riot, the artist stands at his Factory window, light reflecting off Billy Name’s glistening silver wallpaper, and blankly offers one of his most explicitly political works—a riot that had taken place only weeks before. In Homage to Warhol’s Self Portrait, Warhol wears canvases of his own face, promoting his own image as just another product.

William John Kennedy, The Warhol: Museum Edition is available in an elaborate limited edition. “The box,” says Moore, “is of laser cut aluminum and contains separate archival aluminum sleeves that hold the photographs and accompanying curatorial essays.” Fifty were produced, along with five artists proofs, every photo in focus and depicting a man who invented fame as we now know it, at the height of his power.

The collection will go on view at The Armory Show—celebrating the 100th anniversary of the original 1913 show—in New York from March 7 to 10. Click above for a video of Kennedy creating the images.

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