American, b. 1979
Nico and Elaine Mayes, 2008
Polaroid 600 photograph
Polaroid Photographs and Videos by Andy Warhol, Grant Worth, and David Horvitz
(August 28 – October 10, 2008)
On February 8, 2008, the Polaroid Corporation announced that it had decided to gradually cease production of its trademark line of instant film. For many artists, the “retirement” of this medium signals the end of an era for one of photography’s most important and iconic forms. In honor of this occasion, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery presents Line Up, Strip Down, Fade Out, an intimate survey of three artists whose use of instant film defines an important part of their practice.
Nearly a half-century on, Andy Warhol’s Polaroids are still as timely as ever. Created quickly, en masse, and in service of larger commissioned portrait paintings, they are regarded as preparative asides by many art historians. However, when reconsidered as a series, the casualness and immediacy of their execution connotes a kind of faux documentary truth. Much like contemporary reality television, the ambitious poses of Warhol’s patrons read as alternately true and false—a freeze-dried vanitas of status anxiety for the grandparents of modern-day bling culture.
Grant Worth and David Horvitz are two young New York-based artists who build on this existential aspect of Warhol’s myth-making legacy. Worth’s photographs and kaleidoscopic videos lead the viewer into a baroque, almost occult meditation on classic Pop themes of sexuality, glamour, and urbanity, while Horvitz’s stark documentation of his own life provides a quieter and more prosaic counterpoint. These works defy and reflect one another, much like Warhol’s public and private personae. And in a sense, picking up where he left off, they stride farther down paths of loneliness and gold.
Line Up, Strip Down, Fade Out is curated by Joseph Whitt.
The photographs by Warhol that are included in this exhibition are part of a larger gift to the Fine Arts Gallery by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Photographic Legacy Program.