Big Shots highlights a recent gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation of rarely seen photographs by Warhol, dating from 1970 to 1986, presented within the context of the dynamic period of art and cultural production during which they were made. The photographs include celebrity portraits shot as black-and-white prints or as unique color Polaroids using the eccentric Big Shot camera that Warhol made famous.
In light of Warhol’s near iconic status and his views on the topic of fame, the exhibition features artists and other celebrities in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s, looking at the interconnections between Warhol’s Factory, performance art, the underground music club scene, punk and new wave, and the cult of celebrity.
True to the spirit of this intermingling of different art forms and social interactions, the exhibition encompasses a variety of media. There are photographs, prints, posters, items of clothing, and great musical selections from the 1980s. The vintage photobooth allows visitors to shoot self-portraits and enjoy their own “15 minutes of fame.”
Artists in addition to Warhol include Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Laurie Anderson, Keith Haring, Martha Rosler, Larry Fink, and Bud Lee, among others. Celebrities and culture-producers portrayed include Mick Jagger, Patti Smith, William Burroughs, Joseph Kosuth, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Calvin Klein, Brooke Shields, Iris Love, Victor Hugo, Cherry Vanilla, Carmen d’Alessio, and punk rocker/New Waver David Yarritu, among others.
Susan Earle, curator of European and American art, organized the exhibition for the Spencer Museum of Art. All objects on view (except the photobooth) are from the Spencer Museum’s collection.