Vassar & SUNY-New Paltz to host Andy Warhol symposium

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait in Fright Wig, 1985, Polaroid Polacolor print, collection of James Curtis | ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

In 2008, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts donated more than 28,500 of Warhol’s photographs and photo silkscreen prints to educational institutions across the US, on condition that the works be exhibited every ten years. Five of the New York-based universities who received works through the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program – the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY-New Paltz. the Neuberger Museum at SUNY-Purchase and the University Art Museum at SUNY-Albany – are collaborating this year on the project, “Warhol X 5.” Each of the five colleges is presenting a Warhol exhibit, focusing on a different facet of Warhol’s photographic output. Each of the museums has borrowed works from each other’s collections in order to present thematically cohesive exhibitions.

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College is showing “People Are Beautiful” through Sunday, April 15, highlighting ideas of beauty in Warhol portraits. The University Art Museum at SUNY-Albany is presenting “Younger than Today” from June 29 through September 15, focusing on images of childhood as seen through Warhol’s lens. The Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY-Purchase will contribute “Andy Warhol: Subject and Seriality” to the project, taking a closer look at Warhol’s work done in series, on view July 22 through November 18.


The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College is exhibiting “Warhol: Unidentified in the Collection Teaching Gallery,” showing 83 photographs whose subjects are currently unidentified. The gift of Warhol photographs that CCS Bard received includes images of well-known figures that include Bella Abzug, Cheryl Tiegs and Dorothy Hamill, but the curatorial team chose to focus in this exhibit on Warhol images of unidentified people, to be shown alongside eight photomechanical prints of legendary portraits and images from the 1970s. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, April 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. The exhibit remains on view through May 27.

At the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY-New Paltz, the exhibit “Marking Time” focuses on the significance of commemorations and anniversaries in Warhol’s photography. The exhibit is divided into sections emphasizing his images of holidays, commemorations of things, commemorations of people, anniversaries of deaths and birthdays and other celebrations. The exhibition opened in February and will run through July 15.

Among the works featured are Polaroid photographs of poinsettias and of a heart-shaped candy box, used by Warhol to make prints to give as gifts on Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The commemoration photographs include an image made on the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge and a portrait of Bella Abzug to mark her candidacy for mayor in 1977. A focal point of the exhibition is Flash: November 22, 1963, a series of screen prints marking the five-year anniversary of president John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

SUNY New Paltz and Vassar College will co-host a symposium, “Displaying Warhol: Exhibition as Interpretation,” on Thursday and Friday, April 12 and 13. The two-day event will examine the history and significance of approaches to exhibiting Andy Warhol’s work with a roster of distinguished art historians and curators.

Changing the approach to the presentation of an artist can change the viewer’s mind about who an artist is, says SUNY-New Paltz Art History professor Reva Wolf. “In the case of Warhol, there are certain ideas that we tend to associate with his work. For example, it embraces commerce; he uses repetition; he appropriates existing images; he is drawn to fame…those are probably the main, standard ideas that we associate with Warhol. But his work is extremely rich and has many other dimensions. And these can be brought out in different ways through how his work is exhibited.”

The symposium kicks off on Thursday, April 12 at 6 p.m. with a keynote address by art critic and Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik in Room 102 of Taylor Hall, adjacent to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. The talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session and public reception.

On Friday morning, April 13, the symposium moves to the College Terrace at SUNY-New Paltz with check-in and a complimentary breakfast offered at 9 a.m. The morning panel discussion from 10 a.m. to noon, “Warhol X 5 Collaboration Curators Discuss Their Distinct Approaches to Exhibiting Warhol’s Work,” will feature Mary-Kay Lombino (Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College), Reva Wolf (Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY-New Paltz), Jacqueline Shilkoff (Neuberger Museum, SUNY-Purchase), Corinna Ripps Schaming (University Art Museum, SUNY-Albany) and Alex Kitnick (Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College).

The afternoon panel discussion on Friday, April 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. will highlight “New Approaches to Exhibiting Warhol and his World.” Curators Sheelagh Bevan (Morgan Library and Museum), Claire Henry (Andy Warhol Film Project, Whitney Museum) and Anastasia James (Samuel Dorsky Museum) will discuss new approaches to exhibiting Warhol. A reception for the speakers and all attendees at 4 p.m. will conclude the symposium.

Admission is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is recommended at