Warhol finds new home on campus

By Kaiti Deerberg

The Museum of Contemporary Photography recently received a generous donation of work from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


MoCP’s new Warhol collection is comprised of about 150 polaroids and standard black and white 5×11 silver gelatin prints taken by Warhol in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The donation was acquired this summer, and there is no exhibition in the works as of yet.

Rod Slemmons, director of the MoCP, said the photographs are very different from the pop art Warhol is famous for.

“You get the impression that he was experimenting, not making art while taking these photographs,” Slemmons said.

The majority of the photographs are portraits, including some of Warhol’s famous friends.

Portraits of hockey legend Wayne Grestky, Cars’ lead singer Rick Ocasek, figure skater Dorothy Hamill and politico Joe Kennedy can all be found in MoCP’s Warhol collection.

“Warhol seems to be collecting people with these photographs,” Slemmons said.

Photographs of Warhol’s infamous factory friends, regulars at his New York studio and parties, are featured in the collection, as well.

“It is interesting that most of the photos are banal and mundane; it seems to be the opposite of what we would try to teach Columbia students,” Slemmons said.

Erin Saltsgaver, a sophomore photography major, also commented on Warhol’s candid style.

“I’m actually not a fan of Warhol, but his portrait style has become extremely popular,” Saltsgaver said. “Young photographers are trying to imitate those photographs now, and it would be interesting to see Warhol’s originals.”

MoCP has no plans of exhibiting the work anytime soon. The museum is still in the process of curating the photos, and Slemmons said that the photographs will most likely be shown at another museum before being shown at the MoCP. Although no exhibit is planned for the near future at MoCP, the museum is required to show a significant portion of the donation every 10 years, according to the contract with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

“We are a fairly small museum, so a collection like this is great,” Slemmons said. “Lending the collection to other museums will be great publicity for the museum and Columbia.”

Students and Warhol fans will not have to wait until MoCP opens an exhibit of the Warhol collection to see the photographs. Students and the public can make individual appointments with the museum to view the prints. Slemmons is also expecting the photographs to be well utilized by the Art and Design and Photography Department’s faculty for showing in classes.

The donation was part of the Andy Warhol Foundation’s Photographic Legacy Program. Jenny Moore, curator of the Photographic Legacy Program, said its mission is to provide greater access to Warhol’s work across the country.

The program gifted 183 college and university art museums across the country collections of Warhol’s lesser-known work. Other Illinois recipients included the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Illinois, College of DuPage and The Krannert Art Museum.

Interested students, faculty members and the public can contact the Museum of Contemporary Photography at (312) 633-5554 or visit the museum’s website, MoCP.org, to schedule an appointment to view the collection of polaroids and silver gelatin prints. A selection of the collection will soon be published for viewing online.