Nadar/Warhol: Paris/New York
On July 20, 1999 the J. Paul Getty Museum will open Nadar/Warhol: Paris/New York, an exhibition exploring the photographic visions of two artists who each in their time became synonymous with fame and celebrity. Focusing on Nadar (Gaspard Félix Tournachon) in Paris during the 1850s-1860s, and Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola) in New York during the 1960s-1980s, the exhibition explores how they both used photography to create and consecrate a circle of famous people. Each emerged from the bohemia of his day and added photography to his earlier artistic pursuits: Nadar as a journalist and caricaturist, Warhol as a commercial graphic artist, then painter and filmmaker. While celebrating their individual achievements, the exhibition explores the changing nature of fame. (right: Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Self-portrait, 1986, Polaroid polacolor sheet: 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches, image 3 3/4 x 2 7/8 inches, 98.XM.5.3. Collection: The J. Paul Getty Museum, © 1999 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/ARS, New York)
Organized by the Getty Museum, the Nadar/Warhol exhibition will be on view in Los Angeles at the Getty Center from July 20 through October 10, 1999. It will then travel to The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (November 6, 1999 through January 30, 2000) and to the Baltimore Museum of Art (March 12 through May 28, 2000). The exhibition includes 44 works by Nadar and 43 by Warhol. Among Nadar's portraits are images of the actress Sarah Bernhardt, the artists Gustave Doré and Jean-François Millet, and writers Alexandre Dumas, Henri Mürger, and George Sand. Warhol's subjects include Factory Superstar Edie Sedgwick, Truman Capote, Jane Fonda, Grace Jones, Liza Minnelli, and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The photographs are drawn from the holdings of the Getty Museum and from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; the Musée d'Orsay, Paris; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; and the Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York.
Gordon Baldwin and Judith Keller, Associate Curators in the Department of Photographs, organized the exhibition. Baldwin noted: "Despite the many differences between 19th-century Paris and 20th-century New York, there are remarkable similarities between the careers in photographic portraiture of Nadar and Warhol. Each was the most important visual artist of his time to set out deliberately to create celebrity for their subjects." Keller commented: "Even though Nadar would have been baffled by Warhol's idea that everyone would have his or her 15 minutes of fame, his studio, like Warhol's 'Factory,' was an important gathering place for the culturally adventurous. Both artists were interested in multiple imagery and both achieved acceptance by the establishments that, ironically, they had sought to provoke."
As a newspaper writer and illustrator, Gaspard Félix Tournachon (French, 1820-1910) adopted the pseudonym "Nadar" (Tournachon transformed into Tournadar and then into Nadar) during the 1840s in Paris. The ethos and values of the bohemia of this period exerted a lasting influence on him. He befriended some of the most significant French writers, painters, sculptors, and social theorists of the time, many of whose caricatures he included in an oversize lithograph, the Panthéon Nadar. His photographic career was an outgrowth of this project. From 1854 until 1860, he created a remarkable series of portrait photographs that included the most creative Parisians of the time as well as princes and ambassadors.
Highlights in the exhibition include Henri Mürger (1857), the impoverished writer whose Scenes from the Bohemian Life provided the inspiration for Puccini's 1896 opera, La Bohème. The sad, bearded man appears older than 35; he would die five years later in Nadar's arms. In a portrait of Gustave Doré (1856-58), whose work Nadar collected, the debonaire artist is captured under subtle lighting in a casual pose, a stylish scarf giving emphasis to his panache. The beautiful Finette, (1858-59) who danced the cancan in London and had been romantically connected to the painter James Whistler, cuts a peculiarly somber figure in her elegant costume. Her lace-patterned cap and the bold bow at her throat direct attention to her delicate facial features.
Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987) grew up in Pittsburgh and began a successful career in advertising in New York after studying art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Moving beyond commercial art, he began experimenting with silkscreening photographic images onto canvas in the early 1960s as a form of painting. Warhol's portrait photography grew as much out of these early silkscreen paintings as his other experiments in filmmaking and the automated photo-booth pictures that had fascinated him since childhood. A compulsive documentarian, he used Polaroid and 35 mm cameras to capture personalities and events. A full-scale portrait business occupied him throughout the 1970s and until his death. He chose many of his subjects from the arts as well as from New York café society and the international jet set.
The 1975 Polaroid portrait of Mick Jagger was made in preparation for a ten-image screenprint portfolio about the musician. It conveys both the rebellious spirit and eroticism of the slender, full-lipped Rolling Stones star. In Liza Minnelli (1977), the big-eyed diva (who had recently starred in the film New York, New York) appears mournful in a red-orange hooded dress that lends a strange religious overtone. Among other highlights are several head-and-shoulders portraits of actress Jane Fonda (1982, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts). Warhol made them for use in supporting the political campaign of her husband at the time, Tom Hayden, who was running for the California State Assembly. She appears in alternate three-quarter views. A full mane of hair frames her face, her eyes are boldly directed toward the viewer, and her neck and bare shoulder emphasize her sensuality.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue entitled Nadar/ Warhol:Paris/New York: Photography and Fame, published by the Getty Museum, with essays by Keller and Baldwin and an introduction by Richard Brilliant, Anna S. Garbedian Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. At 240 pages, it includes 124 color and 7 black and white illustrations (ISBN 0-89236-560-9). The book is available in the Museum bookstore or via the Internet at www.getty.edu/publications.
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