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Contact: Robbin Zella 203-332-5052

This Exhibition Contains Adult Content

Pia Zadora

In the company of … featuring selections from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Project and contemporary artists whose social scenes inform their work at Housatonic Museum of Art

Bridgeport, CT--In the company of … features videos, photographs, paintings and drawings by contemporary artists who glean subjects, inspiration, and actors from their social scenes, creating collaborative works where relationships among artists, collectors, friends, and acquaintances significantly contribute to the fabric of an artistic practice. The exhibition brings together a group of artists from different generations who reflect, capture or re-imagine social scenes through portraits, rendered moments, and  reconfigurations of observed behaviors. Artists include: Jeremy Kost, Rashaad Newsome, Billy Sullivan, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition is curated by Terri C Smith and is on view from September 9 – October 15, 2010. Opening reception is September 9 from 5-7 p.m. at the Housatonic Museum of Art’s Burt Chernow Gallery.  There is a related performance by Trisha Baga titled Madonna and el Niño on October 14 at 4:00 p.m.

The theme for In the company of…. is inspired by Andy Warhol’s early career that included the living theater of his studio, called “The Factory” as well as his later career that relied heavily (for income and material) on portraits of collectors, celebrities, and socialites. The impetus for doing this exhibition now is the generous gift of Polaroids and black-and-white photographs that were recently given to the Housatonic Museum of Art by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts through the Warhol Photographic Legacy Project. The Polaroids were often used as source material for his large, splashy portraits of celebrities and patrons. Housatonic Museum of Art received a gift of 158 Polaroids and black-and-white photographs for the Permanent Collection and will be exhibiting more than seventy in this exhibition. When the artist died, he left behind thousands of photos that came under the Andy Warhol Foundation’s charge.  The Foundation has spent the past several years giving Warhol’s photographs to not-for-profit art institutions around the country.

Contextualizing Andy Warhol’s legacy within contemporary art, In the company of … pairs Warhol's Polaroids, black-and-white photos, screen tests (including footage of musician Lou Reed and artist Marcel Duchamp), and an episode of Andy Warhol’s TV (featuring an interview with John Waters and Divine) with an array of works by artists working today.   Each artist in this exhibition finds unique ways to incorporate his social and cultural scene as subject, inspiration or actors.  Billy Sullivan, who is a Warhol contemporary, will exhibit his works in a salon-style installation.  With ink drawings, colorful paintings and photos whose dates range from 1969 to 2010, Sullivan exquisitely portrays artists, models, collectors, curators, and other people who move in his social circle during everyday moments – including a 1971 photograph of Andy Warhol with camera in hand.

In addition to Sullivan,  Rashaad Newsome’s Shade Compositions (Screen Test 2) will also be on view. Described by the artist as a video that documents African American women acting out “sassy vocalizations” as part of “ethnographic research,” the video is a fresh, more overtly directed companion to Warhol’s silent black-and-white screen tests (where Warhol instructed his subjects to do nothing, not even blink).  Throwing Shade,  is African American terminology for non-verbal communications that express annoyance with another person.  Shade Compositions is a lively example of what Newsome describes as taking “things from different cultures” to “remix and reframe them and make them something everyone can understand.”

Jeremy Kost is perhaps most closely aligned with Warhol through his use of the Polaroid and his shared affinity for photographing celebrities and underground personalities. Kost, who began taking pictures in night clubs about ten years ago, will exhibit Polaroids from that scene and large color prints of celebrities. Samples from several series by the artist will be on view, including images from the Ladies Who Lunch, Blinded by the Light, and Objectification.  Subjects include, drag queens and other personalities from the clubs he frequents, as well as celebrities such as, Tom Cruise, Beyonce and Madonna.  Two videos by Kost will also be included. They feature paparazzi and a subtly performative backstage moment.  

Small, gestural inclusions of other works by Warhol and materials from popular culture will be inserted as well, creating moments of contemplation about the tensions between public/private, historic/contemporary, and reality/entertainment that inhabit In the company of…

Programming includes a performance on October 14 at 4:00 pm in the Burt Chernow gallery. Emerging artist Trisha Baga will perform Madonna y El Niño. Madonna began her career when Warhol’s was waning, but they crossed paths and their social circles overlapped.  Madonna, like Warhol, is also a consummate self-creation, inventing and reinventing herself over decades. Baga’s multi-media performance includes humorously and smartly manipulated videos of Madonna in concert, projected computer screens, and Baga’s live interaction with the media that streams from her Mac onto the wall behind her.  The energy of nature in El Niño and the energy of changing personas Madonna exudes inform this work.

The Housatonic Museum of Art is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5pm and Thursday evenings until 7pm. Saturdays from 9am until 3pm and Sunday Noon until 4pm.