Hank O’Neal | Texas, N.Y.C.
Second Floor, The Origin (169 Enterprise)
Materials: Vinyl appliqués + canvas

The Warhol Exhibit was created from portraits taken of Andy Warhol in his famous NYC studio in 1985 by photographer Hank O’Neal. It was installed at RCAG in August 2015 in celebration of the iconic artist’s August 5th birthday.

Hank O’Neal on his Warhol encounter:

“In late 1984 Allen Ginsberg told me about a man named Jerry Aronson who was in the process of making a documentary film about his life. In January 1985, Jerry was scheduled to conduct an interview with Andy Warhol about his relationship with the noted poet. Allen asked if I could take a portrait of Andy Warhol that might be used as a still in the film.

The interview was scheduled for January 15, 1985, at Andy Warhol’s last and final factory, the studio where he created his artwork located at 22 East 33rd Street, NYC. I arrived with the crew and we set up in one of the rooms that made up Andy’s studio complex. There were pictures and works in progress scattered about on the floor and people were working on them.

Andy finally appeared, wearing a black turtleneck sweater, ordinary pants, his silver fright wig and a baseball cap. He sat down in a straight back chair, the lights came on, the cameras rolled, Jerry asked his questions and Andy answered them. Or at least he kind of answered them. I took pictures from various angles, close ups, medium shots and a couple interiors. At the end of the shoot, he held still for a couple of really ordinary portraits.

I developed my film and had a number of photographs from which to choose but the more I looked at them the more I thought I wanted to play with the almost expressionless portraits I had taken and so I did. I chose the three or four that seemed the most bland and began to colour them with transparent watercolors, red, yellow and blue. I mixed up the colors and mixed up the pictures. I must have done about 120 small 4” x 4” square photographs.

I then assembled the photographs by hand and mounted them as a ten by ten square grid on an illustration board. I was essentially doing what Andy had been doing for so many years but I was doing it with his face, in the primary color she used with such success. Later I made some double and triple and quadruple exposures of my favorite portrait, but only in black and white. Then I began to play with them in other ways.

In 2005, I began to rethink these photographs for an exhibition in New York City. Computer technology made the difference and I was able to refine the images. I could make the pictures any size I wanted. Later I experimented with prints on canvas, smaller at first and then as large as 52” x 52”.

The latest Andy photographs was done in the summer of 2015, when 42 large prints were created to become a permanent installation on the second level of RCAG. In addition to the 42 large prints on vinyl, an oversized 52” x 52” Double Andy on canvas is displayed in the same location.”

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