“Glam plus Bam” captures explosive moments in Trustman Gallery

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By Lyndsey Nadeau
Staff Writer

Examining the death of a light bulb or an exploding banana may not sound entertaining. But when the moment is captured in a way that one is not accustomed to, the subjects can create beautiful and intriguing photographs that force the casual observer to question the story behind them.

“Glam plus Bam—Warhol and Edgerton: Photos from the Simmons College Collection,” is the newest exhibition in the Simmons Trustman Gallery and will be on display until Oct. 6.
Photos by Andy Warhol, most known for his obsession with capturing pop and consumer culture, and Harold Edgerton, a scientist/inventor with a passion for photography, share the gallery on the fourth floor of the Main College Building.

“When I was viewing the gifts it seemed a natural pairing, as both artists are dealing with the nature of time and the captured moment,” said Interim Director of the Trustman Art Gallery, Bridget Lynch.

On Sept. 13, guests were invited to a reception in the gallery to discuss the photography of the two artists. A table sat in the middle of the room with a pyramid of Campbell’s soup cans, a nod to Andy Warhol’s famous portrait. Some attendees dressed for the occasion, wearing glamorous attire.

Warhol’s collection features a series of Polaroid prints, and six black and white prints. The 20 Polaroids, 17 of which are people, are only a small group of thousands Warhol took in his lifetime. Many of the sitters in the photos were asked to wear whiteface makeup and red lipstick, whether they were beautiful celebrities or nobodies. Warhol liked to document a moment he controlled, “making him the ultimate arbiter,” said Lynch.

“It has been said to make the silkscreen portraits better, however as he doesn’t require all sitters to [wear makeup], I think it was part of Warhol’s desire to control the image,” said Lynch.

Among Warhol’s photos of people are photos of a pig, a Japanese toy, and shoes. The placement of these three Polaroids stand out, but at the same time, humorously fit in. In one area, two Polaroids, one of Ivan Karp and another of a pig, were placed between photos of women, creating an instant comparison between the man and the pig. The organization of the photographs was clearly well-thought out, some portraying similar comedic comparisons, others beautiful compliments.

Edgerton tells a different story through his work. With his invention of the stroboscopic flash, he was able to stop time with his photos and document the previously invisible, Lynch said. Some of his photos, which were carefully staged, consist of bullets destroying objects, such as a card, a light bulb, or a fruit.

“Making Applesauce at MIT,” portrays the strangely fascinating destruction of an apple. Not only does the photo represent an unseen moment, but the details and composition create a beautiful image.

“Bullet Through Banana,” has a similar effect.

“Death of a Light Bulb,” shows the split second after a bullet has gone through and broken a light bulb. What one normally thinks of “death,” where the pieces are scattered on the floor, is questioned. Edgerton captured the light bulb still intact, but severely cracked and ready to fall apart.

Another technical procedure, the multi-flash, allowed Edgerton to do the exact opposite: capture movement by a series of exposures a hundredth of a second apart. This is shown in the photos such as, “Moving Skip Rope,” and “Tumblers Multiflash,” where elaborate movement is represented in a single photo, both of which have a ghost-like appearance.

Both casual observers and dedicated artists will find “Glam plus Bam,” a fascinating display of photographs, from the intricate details in Edgerton’s photos to Warhol’s photo of a man in a wig.

“Celebrity, movement or destruction are ephemeral, these images capture that fleeting experience,” said Lynch.