Instantaneous Beauty: Andy Warhol and the Photographic Process

O’Kane Gallery at the University of Houston-Downtown

February 23 to April 6, 2022

University of Houston-Clear Lake Art Gallery

May 19 to June 24, 2022 

Andy Warhol famously declared that he “never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.” Instantaneous Beauty: Andy Warhol and the Photographic Process explores his all-encompassing ideas on beauty, particularly in its relationship to photography. The exhibition highlights Public Art’s extraordinary collection of Andy Warhol photographs (made between 1975 and 1985), placing these in dialogue with his finished works and those by several of his closest collaborators.  

In 1965, Warhol abandoned painting to pursue filmmaking and television, then seen as more cutting-edge creative activities. But in the 1970s, photography—a medium where the machine, and not the hand, did the work—provided the perfect pathway for his return to artmaking. 

Warhol foresaw such contemporary mainstays as personal branding, celebrity and its commodification, reality television, the idea of everyone’s fifteen minutes of fame, and art at the service of capitalism. The works on view confirm how, long before these ideas became cultural values, Warhol made them indivisible from his creative process and front and center of his uncompromising stance. And, in doing so, he pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be an American artist.  

Instantaneous Beauty is organized by Public Art UHS as part of a broader effort to make its significant collections accessible to academic and community audiences across the University of Houston System. The exhibition includes works from institutions such as The Menil Collection and the personal collections of artists and photographers including Jamie Wyeth, Christopher Makos, David McCabe, William John Kennedy, and the Estate of Brigid Berlin. Public Art’s collection of Andy Warhol photographs was a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation as part of its Photographic Legacy Program. 


University of Houston-Downtown

O’Kane Gallery

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Art Gallery

O'Kane Gallery

UHCL Art Gallery