The Visual Arts Gallery received 150 works of art by Andy Warhol as a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which is distributing works to 82 universities nationwide. The gift includes both Polaroids, for which Warhol was famous, as well as 8x10 black and white prints.
Gallery director Brett Levine revealed the works Friday, Sept. 12, at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
“The range is incredible,” Levine said. “The collection comprises everything from iconic images of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall to artistic images of a razor, a lobster and Santa Claus.
“This is the most significant gift the UAB Visual Arts Gallery has ever received, and it was through the museum and its partnership with UAB that we have been able to bring such a major donation to Birmingham,” Levine said.
The works will be on long-term loan to the museum, and a selection of the works will be on display to the public in mid-October; the majority will be unveiled at the opening exhibition of the new UAB Institute for the Visual Arts, now in the planning stages. All of the works will be available for viewing by scholars and researchers as they represent an important aspect of Warhol’s major contribution to contemporary art and culture.
The importance of the works lies in the fact that from 1970 to 1987 Warhol took scores of Polaroid and black and white photographs, the vast majority of which have never been seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silk-screen paintings, drawings, and prints. In 2007, to commemorate its 20th anniversary, the Warhol Foundation launched the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program in order to give the public greater access to Warhol’s photographs. Through the trust, the Foundation donated more than 28,500 of Warhol’s original Polaroid and gelatin silver prints to college and university museums and galleries across the country.
The gift of such an extraordinary number of photographs to UAB and other universities not only brings Warhol’s prolific photographic production to light, it also enables new insights into his work process and his use of the photographic medium. For more details, visit www.Warholfoundation.org.
Watch the video of Brett Levine's interview.