Andy Warhol scholars and enthusiasts can now see and touch dozens of rare photographs by the contemporary artist at the University of Houston. The curated selection of 149 photographs, taken by Warhol between 1975-1985, includes 99 Polaroids and 50 black-and-white silver gelatin prints. For the first time ever, they are available for research and mere curiosity in the UH Libraries Special Collections.
“It’s just like holding a piece of history in your hand,” said Mary Manning, university archivist and curator of the Performing and Visual Art Research Collection.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts gifted the collection to the Public Art of University of Houston System, one of the most impressive university art collections in the country. The gift, made in 2008, was part of an initiative by the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy program, which donated over 28,500 photographs to educational institutions to provide greater access to Warhol’s unknown bodies of work. The UH System is one of 180 institutions across the country, and one of a handful of Texas universities to have a curated selection of the artist’s original photos and prints.
“Making this collection of photographs by one of America’s most important and influential art figures available provides an unique resource for study and an opportunity to look into the artist’s process,” said Mike Guidry, curator, Public Art of University of Houston System.
Warhol left behind more than 66,000 photographs when he died in 1987. The photos available in UH Special Collections include still lifes, formal portraits and candid shots of Warhol’s famous friends such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, Chris Evert, Pia Zadora and UH alumnus Julian Schnabel—all people who were influential in his life.
“They highlight his infatuation with celebrity and fame,” Manning added. “The iconic faces are of socialites, artists, scene-makers and aristocracy.”
A selection of the Warhol photos had previously been displayed at the University in the Blaffer Art Museum and Student Center. But this is the first time visitors and researchers will be able to study the collection. The photos are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library at the UH campus. The Special Collections Reading Room is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters from noon to 4 p.m.