Artist’s photograph archive unveiled in new book...

Documenting one’s life in pictures is a ubiquitous concept now. The opportunity to share a snap of the smashed avocado on organic rye sandwich you had for lunch on Instagram is so immediate and available that if you printed out every image posted on this one channel alone, after just 12 hours the pile would tower above Mount Everest.

It’s an arrogant concept, believing that your life deserves to be liked and complimented by others, but people do – and will – flock out of curiosity, allowing you an appreciation of the acknowledgement of your followers. Social media, even more so than the exclusivity of reality TV, is the absolute manifestation of the 1968 prophecy of pop artist Andy Warhol, who predicted: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

But, it appears that Warhol was a progenitor of this trend, devotedly recording the minutiae of his colourful life in a series of photographs. “A picture means I know where I was every minute,” he once said. “That's why I take pictures. It's a visual diary.”

For almost 30 years, Warhol chronicled everything in his orbit with the instantaneous gratification of his Polaroid camera, amassing over 20,000 images. He’d capture objects or still lives that would inspire his print work – Campbell’s soup cans or Brillo boxes – as well as shooting the faces of his myriad visiting luminaries. A new book, Andy Warhol. Polaroids, collects 700 of these frozen moments, many of which have never been previously published, and is a fascinating insight into the modernist’s innovative vision.

Featuring a coterie of fabulous friends including Dolly Parton, Jack Nicholson, Yves Saint Laurent, Audrey Hepburn, William Burroughs, Mick Jagger and Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol. Polaroids also contains a wealth of selfies to put even Kim Kardashian to shame.

Though clearly now all individually worth a fortune, at the time, Warhol never considered his snapshots valuable. Like the production-line system of his Factory studio, his photography was fast and easily reproduced. Warhol prefaced the disposable and ephemeral nature of social networks by a whole generation, but in doing so, left an irreplaceable legacy that stands as the defining statement of the beginning of an obsession with celebrity culture.

Andy Warhol. Polaroids, by Richard B. Woodward and Reuel Golden, is published by TASCHEN in September 2015.

Words: Simon Harper

Pic credits:

Andy Warhol
1970
Polacolor Type 108
4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Dolly Parton
1985 Polacolor ER
4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Jack Nicholson
1972
Polacolor Type 108
4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Yves Saint Laurent
1972
Polacolor Type 108
4 1/4 x 3 3/8 inches
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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