Andy Warhol’s portrait of Cindy Pritzker is among the 300-plus works on display.
“The Polaroids were never intended to be artworks,” says Allison Grant, assistant curator of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, referring to Andy Warhol’s instant images, including an arresting 1982 photo of Cindy Pritzker. Like the Factory icon’s other Polaroids, the shot of Pritzker originally served as a study for later pieces, but it became a work of art in its own right when it was distributed by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts following the Pop artist’s passing. It’s just one of more than 300 works in the museum’s 40th-anniversary exhibit, “MoCP at 40,” which also features Elliott Erwitt’s photography from John F. Kennedy’s funeral (including an image of a tearful Jacqueline Kennedy, whom Grant says became “a surrogate of grief”) and Carrie Mae Weems’s poignant 1990 Kitchen Table Series. Complementing the photos are letters, postcards, and other items from the photographers, like Dawoud Bey’s note relaying his experience seeing the “Harlem on My Mind” exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969. “It’s something special that we could pull out of our archives and share with the public in a way that’s not usually done,” says Grant of these pieces, which help give context to the images by these prolific artists, including renowned black-and-white photographer Sally Mann. Through her correspondence, “you can see her career developing,” says Grant, “almost right before your eyes.” January 28–April 10, 600 S. Michigan Ave., 312-663-5554