Cantor Arts Center and Stanford Libraries collaborate to make Warhol photography archives publicly available

Searchable databases allow researchers and Andy Warhol fans worldwide to examine over 130,000 photographs taken by the iconic artist.

For those who ever wondered about the exact design of John Lennon’s iconic glasses or what it would have been like to have had a front-row seat at Maria Shriver’s wedding to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the newly accessible archive of Andy Warhol’s photography provides a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the social and art-world celebrities of the time.

detail of Andy Warhol contact sheet

This detail from an Andy Warhol contact sheet is among an archive of 3,600 contact sheets and 130,000 images available through Stanford Libraries.
Andy Warhol (U.S.A., 1928–1987), Detail from Contact Sheet [Photo shoot with Andy Warhol with shadow], 1986. Gelatin silver print. Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., 2014.43.2893. (Image credit: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.)

Now available through the Stanford Libraries’ SearchWorks catalog, Spotlight gallery, and the Cantor’s website, this archive – of 3,600 contact sheets and 130,000 images – provides a unique ability to view the world through the lens of Warhol’s 35mm camera, which he took with him everywhere he went during the last decade of his life. The collection, which is the most complete collection of the artist’s black-and-white photography ever made available to the public was acquired by the Cantor from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. in 2014.

“The Warhol contact sheets project is a wonderful example of how the university’s libraries and the Cantor Arts Center can work together to benefit research and teaching,” said Mimi Calter, Stanford’s deputy university librarian. “Making scholarly content widely available for deeper exploration and investigation while securing perpetual online access is at the very core of what we do.”

The Cantor’s digitization effort was led by project archivist Amy DiPasquale, who has spent the last two-and-a-half years cataloging the collection.

“This remarkable archive will be available to researchers, academics and Warhol fans all over the world,” said Susan Dackerman, John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center. “Stanford University’s commitment to making this material available will advance scholarship on Warhol’s less-studied photographic work and will contribute to a deeper understanding of the role photography played in the artist’s development.”

The contact sheets – printed thumbnails from a roll of film – document the last 10 years of Warhol’s life.

“Warhol took his camera with him and snapped images from the time he left his apartment, through midtown Manhattan, to work at his offices overlooking Union Square, to nights at uptown galas or downtown nightclubs,” DiPasquale said. “The images range from the mundane to the glamorous.”

In order to make the archive useful for researchers and the public, DiPasquale worked to compile as much descriptive information as possible for each contact sheet. “Warhol and his colleagues didn’t always record where they were when they took the photos,” she explained. For the past two years, DiPascquale has retraced the artist’s steps through 1980s New York to figure out the who, what, where and when of each image . “I tried to match up what I was seeing on the contact sheets with the business trips and social events in the Andy Warhol diaries, as well as with contemporaneous newspaper accounts,” DiPasquale said.

The collection was acquired by the Cantor with the help of Richard Meyer, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Peggy Phelan, Ann O’Day Maples Professor in the Arts, professor of theater and performance studies and English in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Denning Family Director of the Stanford Arts Institute. An exhibition based on the collection, Contact Warhol: Photography Without End, is on view at the Cantor through Jan. 6, 2019.

With the cataloging complete, the contact sheets were deposited into the Stanford Digital Repository managed by the Libraries, which provides continuous online access and displays the contact sheets across three Stanford University sites. Each site provides a slightly different functionality, allowing visitors to explore the images in different ways:

Please be advised that some images in the exhibition at the Cantor may not be appropriate for young viewers.

Media Contacts

Margaret Whitehorn, Cantor Arts Center: (650) 724-3600, mmwhite@stanford.edu