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Penn Libraries News

Penn Libraries Announces Warhol@Penn Again Series

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The Penn Libraries is pleased to announce Warhol@Penn Again, a series of exhibitions and programs celebrating the career of the King of Pop Art Andy Warhol (1928-1987) during the period 1965-1968.

The main exhibition, “Out of Sight: An Art Collector, a Discovery and Andy Warhol,” will run from May 19 to July 28, 2022 in the Goldstein Family Gallery located in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center. Out of Sight features 18 never-before-exhibited screenprints of the actor Marilyn Monroe, one of Warhol’s most famous subjects.

In 2009, Gregory McCoy, a passionate Andy Warhol collector from New Jersey, discovered the first of his 323 Marilyn Monroe two-and-three-color screenprints, which he purchased from the Swedish rare book and art dealer, Börge Bengtsson. Since his discovery McCoy has attempted to unravel the story of the origins of the screenprints and ascertain the degree to which Andy Warhol may or may not have been involved in their production. It is in the spirit of scrutinizing McCoy’s discovery that the Penn Libraries presents “Out of Sight.”  

Reva Wolf, an art historian at the State University of New York at New Paltz, states in her exhibition catalogue essay “Marilyn Mystery” that “Whatever the origin and status of the intriguing McCoy collection of Marilyn screenprints, it is hoped that bringing them to light, exhibiting them, and laying out the available information will lead to further study so that their story can be fully told.”

In addition to “Out of Sight,” the Penn Libraries has launched two complementary exhibitions in the Kamin Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. The first is “Andy Warhol @ Penn Again,” which examines the Pop artist’s relationship with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania from the 1960s to the 1980s. In 1965 the recently founded ICA hosted Warhol’s first retrospective museum exhibition in Philadelphia. The second exhibition, “Marilyn Monroe: From Stage to Silk Screen,” examines the visual legacy of Marilyn Monroe as her image moved from the movie screen to Andy Warhol's silkscreens. Both exhibitions draw heavily upon collections in the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

The Making of “Out of Sight”

In 2009, Gregory McCoy discovered and purchased his first screenprint of Marilyn Monroe from Börje Bengtsson. The prints are based on Andy Warhol’s 1962 screenprint of Marilyn Monroe, “Twenty-five Marilyns in Black and White,” which was acquired by the Moderna Museet in 1968. Bengtsson has worked closely with McCoy for the past decade.

Since his first purchase, McCoy has amassed to date 323 examples of the Marilyn screenprints  that were previously owned by a number of individuals in Sweden associated with the Moderna Museet in the late 1960s. Based on McCoy’s research, it appears that the screenprints were either intended to adorn the exterior of the Moderna Museet during the Warhol exhibition or to be used as wallpaper inside the museum. For unknown reasons, this plan was jettisoned and the exterior was plastered with images of Warhol’s Cow wallpaper, emphasizing the exhibition’s theme of repetition.

David McKnight, Director of the Kislak Center’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library and “Out of Sight” Project Curator, notes, “The story of the McCoy Marilyns is remarkable, each print is magnetic in character, especially the florescent prints, and there is still much to be uncovered regarding the origins of what are amazing posters reminiscent of 1960s counter-culture.”

The “Out of Sight” exhibition provides the historical context in which the Marilyn screenprints appear to have been produced. The central figure in this story is Pontus Hultén (1924-2006), the controversial Founding Director of the Moderna Museet. Heavily influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s anarchic aesthetic and the role of the machine in the production of art, Hultén was an early promoter of American Pop art in Europe. He met Warhol in 1959 in New York and they became close friends. Both shared a passion for Duchamp and the notion of removing human involvement in the production of art. Hultén assembled an all-star curatorial team to produce the Warhol exhibition. In addition to Hultén, the curators included Kasper König, Billy Klüver, and Olle Granath. Granath was charged with compiling the content of the unique exhibition “catalogue” or the “book” in the exhibition title. 

In addition to acquiring the Marilyns, McCoy has purchased copies of the 1968 exhibition catalogue, including what appears to be the proof copy signed by Warhol, along with copies of the invitation and the specially printed Warhol SAS airline ticket, all of which are part of the “Out of Sight” exhibit.

Exhibition and Symposium Dates

“Out of Sight: An Art Collector, a Discovery and Andy Warhol” will open on May 19 and run until July 28, 2022. An opening celebration will take place May 19 from 5:30-8:00 pm. Register to attend. The exhibition catalogue, including a catalogue raisonné of the McCoy Marilyns, will be co-published by the Penn Libraries and the University of Pennsylvania Press.

“Andy Warhol @ Penn Again” and “Marilyn Monroe: From Stage to Silk Screen” run April 18 through July 7, 2022.

In addition to the exhibitions, the organizers will offer a series of lectures entitled “Warhol Wednesdays.” Speakers include an international perspective on Warhol’s career in Philadelphia in the 1960s, on Pontus Hultén; and on collecting Andy Warhol. These lectures will take place from April 27 to June 22, 2022.

In association with the exhibitions, the organizers of “Out of Sight” will hold a symposium on the theme “Translating Warhol,” June 23-24, 2022. To complement the symposium, an exhibition, “Warhol in Translation,” will be on view in the Snyder-Granader Study Alcove in the Kislak Center, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, June 20-July 1. The exhibition team would like to acknowledge the Terra Foundation, which generously provided a major grant to support the “Translating Warhol” symposium.  

For more information on the exhibitions and related events please visit the Penn Libraries website.

About the Kislak Center

The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts advances learning and inspires discovery in Penn's community and around the world. The goals of the Kislak Center align with those of the Penn Libraries as a whole: to make our collections accessible; to use technology in innovative and meaningful ways; to enhance teaching and research; and to preserve our cultural resources for future generations.

About the Penn Libraries

The Penn Libraries provides a network of information resources and knowledge services that are vital to teaching, research, and learning at the University of Pennsylvania. This network includes 14 physical libraries, recognized for their collections, and a digital library known for innovation and richness of content. Through exhibitions and lectures, and through the acquisition and preservation of literary and artistic artifacts, the Penn Libraries documents a wealth of social and historical periods, bringing scholarship to life at the University and in the various communities it serves.

For press inquiries, please contact Mary Ellen Burd, Director of Strategic Communications for the Penn Libraries.