As for the photos that were donated to DU, the dreamy Polaroid portraits are of particular interest, in part because Polaroids decay and the colors have gotten so soft. The Polaroids show what a great photographer Warhol was, although his photographic work has long been overshadowed by his paintings and prints, which are themselves photo-based. One strong element of the Polaroids is the composition Warhol uses in some, like "Sean McKeon as Dracula," which has the head shot filling the frame in a crisply symmetrical arrangement. Warhol's approach in a piece like this, was to transform the sitter into an icon (as was his style). It's staggeringly straightforward, and it never gets old.
Speaking of icons, the most striking part of Warhol in Colorado is the two-by-five grid of "Mao" portraits hung against a creamy gray wall. They were loaned to the show by Denver collector Philae Dominick. Like the other prints, notably the ten images from the "Myths" series, their association to Colorado is simply the fact that the pieces are here in the area.
That's also the case with Warhol's graphic design, which is the field that the artist began with in the 1950s before abandoning it for fine art in the '60s. However, in what would have been a counterintuitive move for any one else, Warhol returned to graphic design in the '70s in the form of album covers for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli. These album cover designs have been included in the show, and they're closely associated with his contemporaneous prints — like his series dedicated to Mick Jagger, which is hung opposite the display of records.
Warhol in Colorado is a complex show. As such, it could be perceived as more of a list of works than a paragraph about them, and I think that's partly true. On the other hand, it's a spectacularly imaginative way to celebrate the gift of the Warhol photos to DU, and without a doubt, Jacobs and Jenkins should be lauded for their effort.
I'd like to close with a quotation from Warhol himself about his thoughts on the Colorado art world. Here in Denver for the opening of his show at the DAM in 1977, Warhol described in his diaries the crowd that came to the exhibit as comprising "all the freaks of Denver, a lot of cute boys and nutty girls."
Isn't it amazing how little things have changed over the intervening decades?