Jul 142009
Authors: Emily Johnson

To many, Andy Warhol was a name, an artist who captured the cult of fame.

To Denver-based photographer Mark Sink, Andy Warhol was his hero.

Sink met Warhol in 1981 when the infamous artist visited CSU as part of The Special Visual Arts Program, a series that brought well-known American artists to campus.

“I was an art student and bicycle racer. Andy was my hero. I found him almost by himself signing Kimiko Powers posters. I plopped down right next to him and asked if I could help,” Sink said in an essay he wrote about Warhol.

Later that day, Warhol contacted Sink to meet with him at the Fort Collins hotel he was staying at and took an entire roll of film in pictures of Sink. And today, two of those images are on display until Sept. 25 in one of two of CSU’s University Art Museum’s newest art exhibits “Through Warhol’s Lens.”

The University Art Museum is delighted to show these photographs, said Linda Frickman, director of the University Art Museum, because they tell a part of Warhol’s story that has not been told – the estimated 100,000 to 150,000 photos he captured throughout his lifetime as inspiration for his art.

In 2007 the Andy Warhol Foundation launched the Warhol Photographic Legacy Project, which has given more than 28,000 photos to 183 colleges and universities.

“This is not a traveling exhibition. The works belong to us,” Frickman said of the 157 original and unique Warhol photographs CSU acquired through the program.

“When Warhol first started working as a commercial artist in the 1950s, even before his success as a fine artist, he collected photographs and used many of them as the basis for his work,” she said.

Warhol used images he found in the media of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley, for example, that he cropped and edited and then transformed into his renowned silkscreened paintings and prints.

The exhibit features original Polaroid photographs that were used as preparation for Warhol’s celebrity portraits, black and white photographs representing Warhol’s interest in New York’s social scene, landscapes and still lives, and one of Warhol’s Polaroid cameras donated by Sink.

“They demonstrate Warhol’s skill with the camera,” Frickman said.

Sink helped the museum start an interactive blog with his memories of Warhol with the hope that others will share their memories of the artist and their reactions to the current exhibition.

He was more enamored with Warhol. Shortly after meeting him, Sink moved to New York and worked closely with the artist.

“We took lots of pictures together. I had open access to (Warhol’s art studio) which was thrilling,” Sink said. “We went out to dinners and art openings often in (New York). I helped out on various projects with his books and printing.”

Warhol photographed dozens of the rich and famous and had an advantage over the paparazzi by actually knowing many of his subjects. Martha Graham, Truman Capote, Pia Zadora and John Denver are just of few of the notable inclusions in this exhibit.

“Warhol’s Flowers,” the museum’s second Warhol exhibit, features ten vibrant silkscreens borrowed from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The works were based on photographs of hibiscus blossoms that were replicated in psychedelic, fluorescent pigments.

Frickman explained the connection between the two shows.

“The flower image was derived from a photograph taken out of an issue of Modern Photography Magazine. Warhol was sued for using this photograph by the photographer, an editor of Modern Photography,” she said.

It was this lawsuit that led Warhol to get behind the camera and take his own photographs, she said.

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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