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Brenau University displays a look into Warhol's world
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Sheila Pree Bright, Untitled, from the Plastic Bodies series, 2004, color photograph. From the exhibition Body Image: Beyond Appearance

Andy Warhol immortalized Marilyn Monroe in shades of neon and elevated ordinary objects like Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s soup cans to the level of fine art.

His popular assembly-line-produced prints took on an art world that frowned on mass production.

“Andy Warhol broke down boundaries. He asked us to examine everyday objects in the context of being art,” said Vanessa Grubbs, the gallery director at Brenau University.

The ever-prolific artist, also a filmmaker and photographer, was known for the wildly varied group of friends he surrounded himself with. Bohemian artists and celebrities, politicians and regular people all were members of Warhol’s social circle.

And in the 1970s and 1980s, Warhol began taking Polaroid and gelatin silver prints. Some posed, some candid, the photos are a window into Warhol’s social life and creative process.

In celebration of The Warhol Foundation’s 20th anniversary, the foundation donated more than 28,000 of Warhol’s photographs to 183 colleges and universities, including Brenau University, which received 155 of the photos in April.

The photos are now on display as part of a new exhibit called “Andy Warhol: A Photographic Legacy.” It is on display through Oct. 12 at Brenau’s Leo Castelli Art Gallery.

“You’ll see people from our culture that you recognize, but you’ll see people treated the same way that you aren’t familiar with,” Grubbs said.

Photographs of people Warhol met on the street are featured alongside well-knowns like skater Dorothy Hamill, golfer Jack Nicklaus, designer Valentino Garavani and Queen Sophia of Norway.

Grubbs said the donation of the photographs adds depth to Brenau’s permanent collection, which is largely focused on pop art, and also includes works from Jackson Pollack and Jasper Johns.

“Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to have these artworks for research, but it also gives the community an opportunity to see artworks from such a famous artist,” Grubbs said.

And after the exhibit closes, Warhol’s vision will continue to be seen around campus.
Grubbs said after “Andy Warhol: A Photographic Legacy” ends, “these pieces then will be hung throughout campus.”