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Warhol foundation gives 6 prints to UMass

AMHERST — Six original prints by famed artist Andy Warhol will be exhibited for the first time ever at the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass after they were donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The prints on paper and museum board, a kind of cardboard, represent a period of work from 1977 to 1986, just a year before Warhol died at 58. They have never even been framed before, according UMass, and Loretta Yarlow, the museum director, described them as “priceless.”

“They were carefully selected by the Warhol Foundation with the idea that each one represents an aspect of his work,” Yarlow said Thursday.

They range from a classic repeating-image screen print of Warhol’s friend and fellow artist Joseph Beuys to his own colorful take on the iconic image of Lakota chief Sitting Bull.

“This feeds into the museum’s mission on so many levels — our mission as a teaching museum and the only contemporary art museum in the Pioneer Valley that focuses on contemporary art from the 1960s to today,” Yarlow said. “He is a household name, but how many people around here have ever seen a print?”

The new pieces are not the first Warhol’s estate has donated to the University Museum of Contemporary Art. The foundation donated 151 Polaroid and black-and-white silver gelatin photographs to the UMass museum as part of a larger donation to several teaching museums across the country. The photographs were exhibited in fall 2009 in an exhibit called “Andy Warhol: The Minox and the Big Shot.”

They were donated as part of the foundation’s Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, launched in 2007 to provide greater access to the artist’s work and process and to promote their study.

“The Warhol Foundation is his estate and its mission is to spread the word about his work, and the best way to do that is through teaching museums,” Yarlow said.

Warhol’s work means a lot to artists studying at UMass, she said. “Warhol is the foundation of so many current artists’ work,” she said.

The six pieces donated to the museum are:

∎ “Hammer and Sickle,” 1977, a non-representative image of the symbol on paper;

∎ “Shoes,” 1980, a black-on-black image of shoes highlighted with diamond dust on paper;

∎ “Karen Kain,” 1980, a portrait on museum board;

∎ “Joseph Beuys,” 1980/1983, a repeating-image screen print on museum board;

∎ “Alexander the Great,” 1982, a profile on museum board;

∎ “Sitting Bull,” 1986, a portrait on museum board.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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