People Are Beautiful

Prints, Photographs, and Films by Andy Warhol Opens at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, January 26 – April 15, 2018

People are Beautiful, a new exhibition of close to 100 rarely seen works by Andy Warhol, will be on view January 26 – April 15, 2018, at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.

The exhibition, curated by Mary-Kay Lombino, explores shifting notions of beauty in the artist’s portraits from 1964 to 1985. The exhibition takes its title from a comment by Warhol about the production of his film portraits: “The lighting is bad, the camerawork is bad, the projection is bad, but the people are beautiful.” Warhol was initially an outsider among his subjects, longing to become liked and accepted by the famous and beautiful people he admired.

“Obsessed with glamor and beauty, an avid collector of celebrity tabloid photos, and plagued by insecurities about his own appearance since childhood, Warhol helped to redefine the term ‘beautiful’ and its parameters over and over during his lifetime,” states Ms. Lombino. He eventually became a consummate insider, celebrity artist, and favorite of the paparazzi but his notoriety never quashed his deep anxiety and self-doubt. People are Beautiful focuses entirely on portraits and investigates such themes as Celebrity and Stardom; The Patron-Artist Relationship; Fashion, Models, and the Party Scene; and the “Most Beautiful” Screen Tests.

Alongside portraits of superstars such as Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, and Jackie Kennedy are portraits from Warhol’s most socio-political series, Ladies and Gentlemen, which features images of trans people of color that he encountered at the New York nightclub, the Gilded Grape. Several large-scale colorful prints and dozens of color Polaroid and black-and-white photographs are on view as well as several portraits of Warhol including one by high-fashion photographer, Helmut Newton; a wall plastered with Warhol’s Self-Portrait Wallpaper (1974); and Self-Portrait with Fright Wig, an iconic Polaroid shot less than two years before his unexpected death in February 1987.

This late self-portrait reflects Warhol’s ability to achieve fame by crafting a public persona that rivals the idols he fixated on over a lifetime. A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue will be produced in conjunction with the exhibition. A concurrent exhibition in the Hoene Hoy Photography Gallery features a selection of works from the permanent collection by Billy Name (born William Linich, 1940 – 2016), photographer and archivist at Warhol’s Factory in the 1960s.

People are Beautiful is supported by the Hoene Hoy Photography Endowment and by the Evelyn Metzger Exhibition Fund.

People are Beautiful is part of Warhol x 5, a series of exhibitions in 2018 organized by five college and university art museums in the region and drawing upon each other’s collections. Each museum focuses on a different theme, and all five exhibitions feature works donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. In addition to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, the other four museums participating in Warhol x 5 are the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, the University Art Museum at the University at Albany, and the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College. The other exhibitions explore such themes as Warhol’s sustained interest in anniversaries, deaths, and celebrations (Dorsky Museum), his photographic portraits of unidentified subjects (CCS Hessel Museum), his work related to childhood and youth culture (University Art Museum, Albany), and his repetition of subjects across time and media (Neuberger Museum). Each museum will produce a publication to accompany the exhibitions. In conjunction with the Warhol x 5 exhibition series, a symposium will be held on April 12 – 13, 2018, on the campuses of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY and of SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY.

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