Andy Warhol’s Celebrity Polaroids Are Better Than Your Instagrams



People document everything these days. No detail is too trivial to post, down to the last meal you ate. It may seem like a recent phenomenon, but Andy Warhol was an anomalous life logger in the 1960s, endlessly snapping Polaroids of the celebrities buzzing around him. Like Kim Kardashian, the Pop artist was an insatiable selfie-taker.

From 1958 until his death in 1987, Warhol took hundreds, if not thousands, of instant photos. Many have sold at auction over the years, but 700 of his less famous snapshots can be seen in Andy Warhol Polaroids, 1958—1987, a book that arrives September 9.

The star power in the book is staggering, but Warhol’s brilliant use of Polaroids is just as fascinating even better than what we see on Instagram today. In keeping with his factory-like production, Warhol wasn’t precious with the camera or film. “He harnessed its mechanical properties—the image-making ease and speed, low-rent realism, automatic seriality, and slavish reproductive fecundity,” Richard B. Woodward, longtime arts critic for The New York Times, wrote in the book’s introduction. Nothing was too unpolished or too dull to photograph. As in his paintings, Warhol also made his face the subject; in addition to photos of Bianca Jagger, Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, there are many, many snapshots of his own deadpan visage.

People take photos now the way Warhol did then—constantly. It makes you wonder what he would have done with Instagram. “It’s tempting to guess that Warhol would have embraced Instagram and the selfie,” Woodward writes. “I’m not so sure. He certainly would have appreciated the instant feedback and cheap profligacy of an iPhone camera.” Something tells us he would have been addicted to shooting Vines.


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I Love Warhol

I Love Warhol