Rowland Scherman, Andy Warhol aside Polaroids of Caroline Ireland, (about 1979); printed 2008, digital inkjet print, Gift of Howard G. Davis, III A.K.A. David Davis, 2011.162. © Rowland Scherman.

Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman explores the symbiotic relationship between photography and contemporary art at the end of the 20th century and how photo-based media became central to the expression of ideas in a wide range of artists.  Beginning in the 1960s, photography rose to unprecedented prominence in contemporary art. As new movements like Pop Art found inspiration in consumer culture, commercial photography and photo-based design moved from the pages of advertising circulars to gallery walls. Artists like Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann incorporated photographic material into their work and emulated aspects of the medium in their compositions. Likewise, photographers of the 1960s also experimented with color, collage, and vernacular materials.

By the end of the 1960s, many contemporary artists relied on photography to document their performances and reconsider the possibility of artwork existing outside the confines of the museum. Photo-based media—television, video, and film—became central to the exploration of ideas raised in the work of Peter Campus, Chris Burden, John Baldessari, and Dara Birnbaum. By the 1980s, a politically active generation of artists—including Nan Goldin, Leon Golub, and Cindy Sherman—dominated contemporary art production, relying heavily, if not exclusively, on photography to probe questions of identity. Organized primarily from the Worcester Art Museum’s permanent collection, Photo Revolution assesses the trajectory of contemporary art through a comparison of traditional media with photography and emerging photo-based art.

Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman is on view at the Worcester Art Museum (55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609) through February 16, 2020.

The Worcester Art Museum's mission is to connect people, communities, and cultures through the experience of art.