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Supported by a Grant from Terra Foundation for American Art, to Be Held June 23-24, 2022, at the Kislak Center, Penn Libraries

The Penn Libraries is pleased to announce that it will host an international symposium, “Translating Warhol,” June 23-24, 2022, in the Class of ‘78 Pavilion at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is one of the most famous and influential artists of the twentieth century, and a vast global literature about Warhol and his work exists. Yet almost nothing has been written about the role of translations of his words, and those of his critics, in his international reputation. “Translating Warhol” aims to fill this gap, developing the topic in multiple directions and in the context of the reception of Warhol’s work in various countries. The numerous translations of Warhol’s writings, words, and ideas offer a fertile case study of how American art was, and is, viewed from the outside.

The contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has often said that the first book he read in English, when he came from China to the U.S. in the early 1980s, was The Philosophy of Andy Warhol because it was easy for a non-English speaker to understand. A closer look—the kind afforded by the intimacy of translation—offers a different picture, however. With its double meanings, ambiguities, paradoxes, now-obscure cultural references, and slang, Warhol’s book creates challenges of comprehension even for someone whose first language is English. “Translating Warhol” explores the fascinating questions of interpretation raised by these challenges. Linguistic as well as other forms of translation are considered. “Translating Warhol” is the first study of the history and implications of the numerous translations of Warhol, revealing, for example, how Warhol’s queer identity has been either concealed or emphasized through the process of translation, or how translation has affected the presentation of his political and social positions and attitudes.

Seven preeminent scholars—art historians as well as experts in literature and translation studies—will participate in the two-day interdisciplinary symposium: Francesco Guzzetti (Senior Lecturer, Art History, University of Florence); Jean-Claude Lebensztejn (Honorary Professor, University of Paris—Pantheon-Sorbonne); Annika Öhrner (Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies, Department of Art History, Södertörn University); Deven M. Patel (Associate Professor, Department of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania); Elaine Rusinko (Emerita Associate Professor of Russian, University of Maryland, Baltimore County); Nina Schleif (Curator of Prints and Drawings, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München); and Jean Wainwright (Professor of Contemporary Art and Photography, University of the Creative Arts). The symposium papers are scheduled to appear in the June 2022 issue of the Journal of Art Historiography, an Open Access publication, available online.

Participating as moderators are Jonathan D. Katz (Associate Professor of Practice, History of Art and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, University of Pennsylvania), Leo Gearin (Curatorial Assistant, Kislak Center, and BA 2022, Art History, History, and French & Francophone Studies, University of Pennsylvania), and Kathryn Hellerstein (Ruth Meltzer Director of the Jewish Studies Program and Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania).

Sean Quimby (Associate University Librarian and Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania) will introduce the keynote event, and David McKnight, Director, The Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Curator of Manuscripts, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, will introduce the June 24 program.

The “Translating Warhol” program has been organized by Reva Wolf, Professor of Art History at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Professor Wolf has produced groundbreaking work on Warhol, including the book Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s (1997) and essays on Warhol’s interviews (2004) and books (2013). She has organized, together with her students, two exhibitions of the artist’s work: Andy Warhol: Private and Public in 151 Photographs (2010) and Marking Time: Andy Warhol’s Vision of Celebrations, Commemorations, and Anniversaries (2018). Her recent study, co-authored with Kou Huaiyu, “Cosmic Jokes and Tangerine Flake: Translating Andy Warhol's POPism,” published in Complementary Modernisms in China and the United States (2020) and based on a Terra Foundation-sponsored conference paper, planted the seed for the “Translating Warhol” project.

Warhol @ Penn Again

“Translating Warhol” is part of Warhol @ Penn Again, a program that revolves around the exhibition Out of Sight: A Collector, A Discovery and Andy Warhol. Out of Sight features eighteen never-before-seen screen prints that relate to a 1968 exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm—the first museum show of Warhol’s work in Europe. This status gives it an historical connection to the University of Pennsylvania, where, three years earlier, in 1965, Warhol’s first museum exhibition in the United States was held. Out of Sight will be installed in the Kislak Center’s Goldstein Family Gallery from May 19 to July 28, 2022, and has been organized by David McKnight, Director, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Curator of Manuscripts, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, who has also edited the accompanying catalog. A show about the 1965 Penn exhibition will be installed in the Library’s Kamin Gallery from April 18 to July 7.

A complementary exhibition, Translations of Warhol, featuring published translations of the artist’s words, and organized by Professor Wolf, will be on view in the Snyder-Granader Study Alcove at the Kislak Center. A highlight of this exhibition is the distinctive book that accompanied the 1968 Stockholm exhibition, which features a sequence of statements by or attributed to Warhol, side-by-side in English and Swedish—an early and interesting example of the translation of his words.

Additional events, including a series of lectures entitled “Warhol Wednesdays,” are also scheduled.

“Translating Warhol” is free and open to the public.

For more information, including the symposium schedule, paper topics, registration and updates on “Translating Warhol,” please check the Warhol @ Penn Again website regularly or contact the symposium project team at warholtranslationsymposium@gmail.com.

The Penn Libraries and the program organizers are grateful to the Terra Foundation for American Art for its generous support of the symposium.

About the Terra Foundation for American Art

Terra Foundation for American ArtThe Terra Foundation for American Art supports individuals, organizations, and communities to advance expansive understandings of American art. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Chicago, with an office in Paris, the Terra Foundation is committed to fostering cross-cultural dialogues on American art locally, nationally, and internationally, through its grant program, collection, and initiatives.

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.