Museum Goers Viewing Andy Warhol’s Campbells Soup Can Paintings, 2007

Museum Goers Viewing Andy Warhol's Campbells Soup Can Paintings

Museum Goers Viewing Andy Warhol’s Campbells Soup Can Paintings, 2007

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Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup cans in the background. But at MoMA I was more interested in capturing the museum goers.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “Museum Goers Viewing Andy Warhol’s Campbells Soup Can Paintings, 2007”

  1. I find these photos you take of people in groups, doing ordinary things, to be an interesting slice of time, a way of looking at these fleeting moments. In this photo, the woman that has turned so that you see her face, so she’s not facing the same way the rest of the people are, her face looks sad. I don’t know that she is, could just be that tiny moment that was captured, a moment when she wasn’t thinking of what others would think of her, a private moment. The track lighting above the Warhol, and whatever you may have done (did you do anything?) to enhance that, that whiteness as contrast to the darkness of the mass of people, as if these two things are opposed and joined at the same time. What were you thinking when you took this photo? Or did you select this one from several similar ones and this is the one you wanted to work more with? If so, why that particular moment?

  2. As you note, who can imagine what she’s feeling? The museum is so large and there’s so much, she could have simply been tired or transitioning, relaxing before heading on to the next station of concentration. But one expects, with all these famous paintings, to see people focused on them, soaking them in, the painting the be all and end all of the moment, and whatever she is feeling or thinking she is moving away from that, perhaps so distracted by whatever her thoughts are on that she is less at the museum than alone there with her thoughts, and amidst these people it’s a reminder of the individual, of life moving on, pulling attention into her and her thoughts. In museums art is so worshiped, it can be seen as worth far more than the lives of these individuals who come to see it, and I wanted to transfer back some of that to the people. These people are worth more than the paintings…

    What was I thinking when I took the photo. I was doing the same thing that I did at the Grand Canyon and when I am in a very public situation looking for these shots. I’m trying to be unobtrusive and blend and not get in the way of anyone’s experience. It’s pretty difficult getting shots like this in a museum because people believe you want to take a photo of the art and museum goers are all usually very considerate and do their best to move to the side and get out of the way. So I stand a bit and I wait, and I try to wait for people who are expressive or an interesting configuration or sometimes just the right posture, a fleeting pose that someone makes that (in this situation) worked with or against the art, but those poses are hard to capture and so I trust too in serendipity to hopefully reward me with something. I took hundreds of photos and then culled through for what I may have intentionally gotten and what serendipity may have given me.

    I chose this photo because of the dynamics of the people. You have this woman turning away from the painting and turning out of the group at the same time, and I liked her face and this moment of her turning out of the collective and away from these famous paintings. Contrapuntally I liked the woman next to her who had her hand up to her face and was looking not to the front but to the side and very attentive in opposition to this other woman relaxing her body and face or her weariness. I loved the color and texture of the sweater of the attentive woman. And her bag. There’s this more seemingly wearied woman with her arm hanging down and that heavy triangle of the bag on the woman to her right echoes that heaviness, the pulling down, while also working against that uplift of the woman in the light sweater raising and resting her hand against her face in a very light manner. Those tensions and echoes emphasize the tension of these women pulling away from each other while the others around are more static. The tension of the one attentive and focused while the other is withdrawing focus.

    The original photo looks nothing like this. I hit on a look I was going for with the MoMA photos that would be a cross between a photo and an ultra-realistic painting in browns and beiges with bits of color interest coming through. Something blown out with an appropriate grain that would freeze a moment in the way a painting does which is different from how a photo captures a moment. And I think if you look at the photos close up you can see how this is different. At least that was my objective with a number of these. So I fogged and blew them out with fake infared and a glow that would emphasize certain postures and features, then blew them out even further with putting them through other filters so that only certain details remained and the art work receded far into the background, veiled, with only a remnant remaining of it because the art wasn’t the focus. And I replaced the normal coloring at the same time with these beiges so it was a working of dark and light rather than color, but giving a bit of color a chance to slip through. So all these photos have undergone intensive processing.

    I’ve a number more that I may go ahead and post here, though I’ve already got them up at Flickr.

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