The enduring legacy of some artists is nothing short of amazing. Take Andy Warhol, for instance. Not only did he question the very notion of what original art might be, he essentially mechanized its production. Yet today, anything he did (or didn’t do – at least not himself – as the case may be) instantly becomes a hot topic of conversation, and usually a hot commodity at the same time.
For instance, take his little known, “Athlete Series”. Commissioned for a single collector in the late 1970s and early 80s, this collection of ten works was produced using Warhol’s standard silk screening method. While the collection, currently valued at $10 million, have a sordid history of their own, even the elements of their earliest beginnings are now considered art.
In order to create a silk screen, an image is “burned” to a screen using emulsion fluid. Warhol, who popularized the use of the process in fine art, often used polaroids that he shot himself as the base image. From time to time, his original photographs of celebrities, or in this case, sports stars, pop up and create a stir in the art world.
In 2009, that very thing happened with the “Athlete Series.” New York City’s Danziger Projects put together a small show of just the original polaroids from that particular cycle of work – elevating the artist’s materials to the status (if not also the value) of the final products. Before you take a look at the original New York Times article to see a slideshow of all the original polariods, see if you can identify all of the 70s sport starts above.
I guess it’s fitting that a man who was so obsessed with fame – his own and others – redefined it for artists everywhere. If only Warhol had known. Or maybe he did.