Kent State gets its 15 minutes of fame with Warhol photos

Darren D'Altorio

Photo courtesy of the Kent State School of Art.

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State is no stranger to art. A giant brain, a biodegradable sculpture and an asymmetric fountain are just a few of the works that can be spotted around campus. Now, iconic pop artist Andy Warhol’s original photography can be added to the list.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. has donated 156 of the artist’s Polaroid photographs to be displayed in the Kent State School of Art Gallery starting in August. The donation celebrates the foundation’s 20th anniversary.

The goal of the donation reflects the foundation’s mission – to provide greater access to Warhol’s artwork and process, said Joel Wachs, president of the foundation, in a press release.

In classic Warhol style, the Polaroid collection showcases anyone and everyone, ranging from unknown socialites to famous celebrities such as Olympic gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill and recently deceased fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

In front of Warhol’s lens, however, they all appear as stars, echoing Warhol’s prophecy that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

“These photos are a documentation of history,” said Anderson Turner, director of galleries at the Kent State School of Art. “Warhol was using this as part of a process.”

Turner said Warhol’s process was raw and humanized a lot of people. Today’s society puts stars and heroes on a pedestal and Warhol was all about manipulating that, he said.

Warhol’s up-close-and-personal style of photography has shaped the way people take pictures today, Turner said, and if Warhol were alive, “he would love the digital age.”

The digital age has felt the impact of Warhol’s influence. Some computer programs are designed to transform any digital photo into the bold color patterns and negative impressions of Warhol’s famed prints.

A student can see the process of how Warhol worked and apply that process to other art, Turner said.

Jessie Preisendorfer, junior fine arts major, said students can be motivated by seeing these photos, knowing that great art can start with a Polaroid.

“It gives the university a sense of pride, ” Preisendorfer said. “Warhol is a well-known artist in pop culture, not just the art world.”

Besides Kent State, The University of Akron, The College of Wooster and 183 university art museums nationwide have received donations of Warhol’s work through the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program.

Contact general assignment reporter Darren D’Altorio at [email protected].