The title of this exhibition derived from Warhol’s famous quote: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” however, it did not focus exclusively on celebrities, but on portraits of both known and unknown individuals immortalized in photographs from the 1920s to the present. Providing a “snapshot” of the museum’s photographic holdings with a few loans from other collections, it was organized into themes, focusing on the significant contributions of California photographers, as well as recent acquisitions of nationally and internationally-known contemporary artists.
15 Minutes of Fame traced aspects of the evolution of the photographic portrait beginning with early 20th century works by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, members of California’s f-64 group; Depression-era social documentary photographs by Dorothea Lange and John Gutmann, and nudes by Ruth Bernhard, Imogen Cunningham, Arnold Newman and others. The next gallery featured artists, musicians and celebrities: portraits of Los Angeles painters and sculptors installed with their art from the OCMA collection; William Claxton’s iconic photographs of jazz musicians, and photographs of Hollywood celebrities or socialites by Philippe Halsman, George Hurrell and Andy Warhol. In this gallery, Photo Op: Your Own 15 Minutes, gives visitors a chance to make their own portraits. Subsequent galleries included photographic portfolios from the 1960s and the 1970s: Garry Winogrand’s Women Are Beautiful, street photographs of contemporary women in New York City; photojournalist Laurence Schiller’s The Sixties, an account of political events and popular culture from that era, including the final photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and Larry Clark’s Tulsa, a harrowing social documentary of Clark’s own circle of drug-addicted friend.
The final gallery culminated with self-portraits and directorial photographs by artists from the 1970s until now including work by Keith Boadwie, Jo Ann Callis, Eileen Cowin, Rineke Dykstra, Katy Grannan, Robert Heinecken, Martin Kersels, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, Daniela Rossell, Kelly Nipper, Tim Sullivan, William Wegman, Charlie White, Kim Yasuda, among others. Many of these artists construct narratives, or utilize humor and artifice to represent the human condition and to explore their own identity.
The exhibition also included a participatory installation, Photo Op, where could take photographs of themselves and display them on the walls and on Facebook, attaining their own “15 minutes of fame.” This area also included the small Polaroid portraits Andy Warhol took of artists, actors, artists, athletes, and socialites as studies for the photo silk screens of celebrities that he began to make in the 1970s.