My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.
For Andy Warhol, the camera was a device through which he saw the world. The artist was rarely without one, whether it was his beloved portable Polaroid SX-70 instant, a conventional 35mm single lens reflex, or the movie cameras with which he made hundreds of films. Photographic imagery—his own, other artists’, and everyday mass-produced commercial photographs—was the foundation for nearly his entire artistic vision and output.
Andy Warhol: You Look Good in Pictures explores the breadth of the artist’s relationship with photography through several distinct bodies of work including screenprints of celebrities, all of which were taken from photographs, a group of Polaroids and black and white snapshots illustrating his social circles, and an early silent film of the curator Henry Geldzahler from 1964.
Often re-photographing and re-imaging the same subjects over and over again, Warhol focused as much on the act of photography as he did the people in the images. One of the disarming things about Warhol’s image-making process was the way in which he often disregarded established photographic conventions such as composition, exposure, and other technical elements that make a “good” photograph. He constantly documented his life and those around him in candid pictures with a freewheeling manner and once quipped, “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.”
Today, Warhol’s work feels more prescient than ever. He would have no doubt loved social media networks, aesthetically enhancing digital filters, and delighted at the ubiquity of smartphones capable of spreading images across the globe at the touch of a button.