Big Shots: Andy Warhol, Celebrity Culture, and the 1980s Opens at the Spencer Museum of Art

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Joan Collins and Wayne Gretzky. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Liz Taylor. Chris Lawford and William S. Burroughs. What do these seemingly dissimilar individuals have to do with each other? The answer is simple: They were among the many celebrities whose images were captured by Andy Warhol with either his Big Shot Polaroid or a pocket-sized 35mm camera. And now, those photographs are coming together at the Spencer along with a host of others in a big, bold celebration of Warhol, celebrity, and the 1980s.

Opening Saturday, August 15, Big Shots: Andy Warhol, Celebrity Culture, and the 1980s highlights a recent gift to the Spencer from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., of rarely seen Polaroid and gelatin silver print photographs by Warhol, dating from 1970 to 1986. Presented within the context of the dynamic period of art and cultural production during which they were made, the photographs include “celebrity” portraits shot as black-and-white prints or as unique color Polaroids using the eccentric Big Shot camera that Warhol made famous.

In light of Warhol’s near iconic status and his views on the topic of fame, the exhibition features artists and other celebrities in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s, looking at the interconnections between The Factory (Warhol’s studio), performance art, the underground music club scene, punk and new wave, and the cult of celebrity.

True to the spirit of this intermingling of art forms and social interactions, the exhibition encompasses a variety of media. There will be photographs, prints, posters, music, and music videos. The exhibition also will include a vintage photobooth to allow visitors to shoot self-portraits and enjoy their own “15 minutes of fame.”..

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