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Andy Warhol: Portraits

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


20 Nov 1993 to 06 Mar 1994

About the exhibition

Andy Warhol: Portraits presented 34 examples of portraiture from Warhol’s extensive oeuvre, including portraits of Aretha Franklin, Maria Shriver, Joan Collins, John Lennon, Herman Hesse, Man Ray, and others.

Portraiture forms one of the most central categories of the Warhol’s artistic enterprise. Key to this was images of the famous, or images that engage with the fame-conferring power of a culture saturated with image-reproduction and the 'authority’ of global media.

When Warhol took up portraiture, its estimation in western culture had fallen to a point of disdain and irrelevance among the serious categories of fine art. Whereas portraiture had drawn on the assistance of photography almost since the latter’s development in the early nineteenth century, Warhol’s innovation was to turn to the photographic image as an aesthetic system already functioning in metropolitan experience.

In reviving still portraiture, Warhol employed the ubiquitous contemporary technology of photography and silk-screen printing – previously confined to the world of advertising. His subjects were celebrities and well-known figures in high society, from Dolly Parton to the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The exhibition was accompanied by a film program of works drawn from the collections of the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Andy Warhol: Portraits was developed in collaboration with the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London, and the Andy Warhol Foundation, New York.