See through the eyes of Andy Warhol at The Cult of Personality, a new exhibit opening Friday at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
Celebrity Polaroid portraits shot by the legendary pop artist will be on display, along with two Warhol paintings and portraits by Harold Stevenson, Warhol’s contemporary and colleague.
Taken in preparation for later portraits, the Warhol Polaroids were gifted to the museum from the Andy Warhol Foundation in 2008.
“The Warhol Foundation asked us to exhibit them as a group sometime in the next 10 years after that gift, and now we’re finally able to stage a large exhibition of that work,” said Mark White, the museum’s chief curator.
The two finished paintings of museum benefactor Mary Spencer are on loan from Spencer herself. Meanwhile, Stevenson’s portraits were a gift from the artist in 2006.
“Stevenson saw this group of 97 portraits as one single work of art, and he actually specified that we could only show it together,” White said. “We got special permission from him to just show a portion of it this time.”
Viewers will have the opportunity to see what interested Warhol on a daily basis.
“It gives you kind of a glimpse into who Warhol was as an individual, what interested him, the kinds of personalities and people he tended to be drawn to,” White said, noting that the pop artist often took photos in an impromptu fashion, carrying his camera with him just in case.
Among the celebrities captured by Warhol include hockey great Wayne Gretzky and American Indian artist R.C. Gorman. Meanwhile, Stevenson’s portraits are comparative unknowns: residents of Idabel.
“It’s a kind of interesting contrast, an interesting study in how Americans have been depicted in the 1960s and since then,” White said.
Opening the same night with a free public reception at 7 p.m. is another exhibition, Vernet to Villon: Nineteenth-Century French Master Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, which includes works by such acclaimed artists as Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
While no direct relationship exists between the exhibits, White said he sees a bond.
“Both of them examine how artists begin their work, what that initial creative step happens to be,” he said. “Beyond that, it really is sort of a stark contrast — you know, two different times, two different aesthetic approaches.”