Duane Michals Shot Warhol, and Took Off

THE DAILY PIC: Michals matters for his photo series; Warhol's in one of the first.



Duane Michals’s great contribution to photography came when he began to present his images in narrative sequences—as I made clear in my profile of him in Sunday’s New York Times. That watershed is usually dated to 1966, but today’s photographic diptych of Andy Warhol and Julia Warhola, his mother, pushes it back to 1958—the year that Michals began taking serious pictures of any kind. The two Warhol images are in Michals’s new retrospective at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where they need each other to make sense, and to comprise the two-person portrait that Michals had in mind; they are as much of a “sequence” as anything Michals did later, and are just about as staged. There’s narrative in here, too. It’s the narrative of a shifting glance, and changing focus, as a visitor to Warhol’s home takes in the artist first, and then his mother, and recognizes their powerful bond. Michals’s photography was still in practice mode at the time: He told me he chose Warhol as his sitter because that was as close as he came to knowing someone famous—even though Warhol’s modest success was as a successful illustrator, not as the Pop artist he’d become in the following decade. Warhol’s mom became a fixture of his persona in Pop, but it’s impressive that Michals spotted her importance from the start. (Henry L. Hillman Fund, courtesy the Carnegie Museum of Art)

 For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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