A Few Warhol Photos

Photographs on Display in the Salm Palace

Through a maze of rooms in the National Gallery’s Salm Palace, an exhibition of photos by pop art icon Andy Warhol is sandwiched between neoclassical portraits and sprawling Romantic-era landscapes. The collection was donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts for the National Gallery’s new exhibit “Generosity. The Art of Giving,” marking the Gallery’s 220th anniversary. The photos made their debut in late February, delayed by three weeks due to bad weather in the United States.

When one finally stumbles upon the photographs, there is little indication they were taken by Warhol. The colorful canvases and iconic imagery he is known for are absent from this exhibition; instead, there are a menagerie of Polaroids, gelatin silver prints, and a couple of black and white stitched panels. These offer a rare look into Warhol’s daily life behind the lens, which resulted in over 30,000 photos taken during his lifetime.

The Polaroids offer a more candid take on the glitz and glamour of celebrity that always piqued Warhol’s interest. Casual snapshots of actors, lovers, and multi-millionaires are matted side by side, a testament to the assortment of personalities that Warhol surrounded himself with.

The other works in the exhibit are a subdued depiction of Warhol’s interest in everyday objects—vegetables and silverware, arranged neatly in sets of four. One set of prints, a shot of a shop’s window, emblazoned with the word “SALE,” hints at the undertones of consumerism present in Warhol’s depiction of American brands, while the repetition of the stitched panels echoes some of his most famous silk-screen works, like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis.

As quickly as the collection appears, unmistakably mounted against sunshine yellow walls, it ends. Visitors suddenly remember that the room is also filled with canvases and sculpture from a bygone era, and in comparison, Warhol’s photographs seem like nothing more than a glimpse into the future—though a small one at that.

This collection of photos is far from substantial, and may not be enough to satiate the causal Warhol enthusiast. But for those looking for even a brief peek behind the scenes of the great pop artist’s life, head to the exhibition at Salm Palace. You just might have some trouble finding it.

Admission price is 220 kc for an annual pass allowing access to all National Gallery exhibits in 2016.

For more information please visit: www.ngprague.cz

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