Andy Warhol (1928−87) famously declared that he “never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.” Organized by Public Art of the University of Houston System (Public Art UHS), the exhibition “Instantaneous Beauty: Andy Warhol and the Photographic Process” explores his process and experimentation with photography, particularly in its relationship to beauty. It highlights Public Art UHS’s extraordinary collection of photographs made by Warhol between 1975 and 1985, which it received in 2008 as a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation. “Instantaneous Beauty” places this important body of work in dialogue with his finished pieces as well as with those by close collaborators including Harry Benson, Brigid Berlin, Christopher Makos, William John Kennedy, and Jamie Wyeth. The exhibition is on view at the O’Kane Gallery, University of Houston-Downtown, through April 6, 2022.

In the mid-1960s, Warhol shifted his interest from painting to filmmaking and television, then seen as more cutting-edge creative activities. But in the 1970s, photography—a medium where the machine, and not the hand, did the work—provided the perfect pathway for his return to art-making. “Instantaneous Beauty” focuses on that pivotal moment when photographic images, whether culled from his own work or from mass media, became central to Warhol’s production.

“Warhol foresaw such contemporary mainstays as personal branding, celebrity and its commodification, reality television, the idea of everyone’s fifteen minutes of fame, and art at the service of capitalism. The works on view confirm how, long before these ideas became cultural values, Warhol made them indivisible from his creative process and front and center of his uncompromising stance,” said María C. Gaztambide, Public Art UHS director and chief curator. “In doing so, he pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be an American artist.”

“Instantaneous Beauty” is part of Public Art UHS’s effort to make its significant collections accessible to broad audiences across, and beyond, the University of Houston System. The exhibition features works from private and institutional collections, including The Menil Collection. Admission is free.

“Access to the arts undeniably enriches and moves our society forward, which is why the University of Houston-Downtown is proud to host the works of famed artist Andy Warhol,” said UHD President Dr. Loren J. Blanchard. “His provocative collections and indelible impact on culture make him one of the most iconic visionaries of recent times. It is our distinct honor to welcome guests to our campus to discover, consume and reflect upon the notions his pieces represent.”

For more information about the exhibition and related programming, visit publicartuhs.org

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