A COLLECTION OF STITCHED PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY WARHOL (Lots 140-155)
On the occasion of the Visual Memory exhibition of Warhol's black and white photography, Bruno Bischofberger stated that Warhol's most important legacy is quite possibly the artist's introduction of photography into painting and film. This is perhaps not surprising considering the importance of the medium to Warhol throughout his life and career. Warhol began collecting photographs of movie stars as a child; as an adult, he acquired works by Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn. His collecting taste reflected a fascination with photography as fine art as well as his ongoing preoccupation with the creation and documentation of fame.
Initially, photography enabled Warhol to make the transition from hand-painted paintings and drawings to an innovative screen-based process. In 1976, Warhol took up the camera himself, the new Minox 35 EL, which was the smallest portable camera capable of taking 35mm photographs. According to Vincent Fremont, "Andy would have liked to have the camera and tape recorder running twenty-four hours a day" (quoted in W. Koestenbaum, Andy Warhol, New York, 2001, p. 165).
Warhol's photographs and film footage instantly became a new extension of his diary, recording the events and personalities, gossip and banality surrounding him. His voyeuristic eye is most acutely represented by his photographs, which are seemingly boundless, although highly specific, in their scope and subject matter. Everything is of interest: piles of baguettes, orderly rows of shoes, the black and white patterns of sidewalks, a landscape of bare buttoxes. These ordinary objects are not destined to be mere source material for paintings, but are elevated to high art subjects in their own right.
"In these photographs we find a lot of iconography which is related to Warhol's early Pop Art images. Warhol's consummate talent as a commercial artist and as a painter and filmmaker allows him to choose what might be random, almost automatic choices of strong formal compositions. Everything in his unmistakable, unique language is said without irony, sarcasm or glorification. Nothing seems hot - everything is cool. In his structured images Warhol selects a part of a larger structure in the frame of the photograph and gets solutions of strength and beauty, comparable to his important silkscreen paintings with repeated images" (B. Bischofberger, Visual Memory, Zurich 2001, p. 12).