A series of Andy Warhol photos taken in the early 80’s by artist and photographer Karen Bystedt pay homage to the inventor of pop art and emphasize a community spirit of international artists who have been brought together through the unique series, known as “The Lost Warhols”. The Untitled Space gallery has announced an online exhibition of the collection on Artsy, which launched on October 4th. The series presents collaborations between numerous contemporary artists such as Peter Tunney, Jeremy Penn, Flore and Bystedt herself. Over the last few years, she has invited numerous contemporary artists to interpret her images in their own artistic language, thus co-creating mixed media artwork that pays homage to this media form so inextricably associated with the legacy of Warhol.
“The Lost Warhols” were recently exhibited in collaboration with non-profit God’s Love We Deliver in New York City, and have been featured at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, and The Armenian Museum of Modern Art as well as SCOPE Art Basel Miami, Houston Art Fair and Art Hamptons.
Collaborating Artists include: Ashish aka ILOVEHASH, Benjamin Goetz, Chris Brown, Chris Saunders, Christopher Florentino aka FLORE, David Cavazos aka Big Sleeps, Dom Pattinson, Drew Merritt, Fiumani aka Filippo Fiumani, Gregory Siff, Jeremy Penn, John Moody aka Madman, Lee Washington, Moncho 1929, Nick Sider, Peter Tunney, Producer BDB, Ralph Ziman aka Afrika_47, Raul33, Ron Bass, Spencer Guiburt aka This Means War, Tamara Alves.
In 1982, Karen Bystedt, then a tenacious young film student, cold-called Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine and asked he pose for her book-in-progress featuring the era’s top male models. She had come across an image of the legendary artist modeling for Barney’s and hoped to capture the icon in this unique context, positioned amongst faces renowned for their aesthetic ideal; she endeavored to preserve an image of the man made infamous for making models as a model himself. Warhol asked Bystedt whom else she intended to include in this book, upon hearing her answers, he swiftly agreed to join the fold. The resulting images materialize a rare and remarkable sense of vulnerability; in this portrait session, Bystedt captures a soft and submissive Warhol, a man who spoke much of beauty, and its essential mystery, and as is suggested in his rigid pose, his bewildering gaze, and simply, his participation in her project, seemingly so wanted to be seen as beautiful himself.
Bystedt included two of the thirty-six photos shot that afternoon in her book “Not Just Another Pretty Face” published by NAL, and placed the negatives in storage, where they lived untouched for twenty-five years. The movements of an artist are so often mysterious to the artist themselves, as if a mystical wind directed the creative spirit, engulfing cerebral elements and ineffable impulses in its power. In 2011, Bystedt felt firmly compelled to revisit her representations of Andy and unearth the images captured that afternoon. She was able to locate ten of her original negatives, yet time and its offspring, reality, had taken its toll on her spellbinding photographs. She dedicated the preceding four months to restoring her Andy, pixel-by-pixel, infusing new life, breath by breath, into her images.
Having turned from photographer to visionary pioneer in the mixed media form, Bystedt conceptualized a new future for her Warhol portraits, one that echoed her subject’s inventive spirit, and mirrored his approach to both inspiration and practical creation.
“The Lost Warhols” live as a testament to intrinsic value of eclecticism in visual perspective, honoring individuality in interpretation, allowing the self to shine in position as part of a greater whole, as Warhol once did and forever will, in Bystedt’s book. Bystedt has created a series that follows in Warhol’s footsteps, playing with popular culture; the collection champions the unique signatures of her collaborators and encourages its audience to consider their own understanding of its central subject—a man captured by a woman; two unique artists, both fascinated by beauty, and determined to stir an evaluation of its ever-changing parameters and visual associations. The work thereby provides the world with a new lens with which to examine the legacy of Andy Warhol and re-evaluate the aesthetic ideal, thus challenging the modes in which it may be measured and questioning its intrinsic value itself.”
Karen Bystedt is an internationally acclaimed, highly prolific photographer and mixed media artist currently based in Los Angeles. She has published four photography books including Not Just Another Pretty Face (NAL, 1983), The New Breed (HOLT, 1989), Before They Were Famous (GPG, 1994) and They Dared To Dream (OSLO PROD, 1998). She has photographed film stars and rock and roll icons such as Slash, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Drew Barrymore, Eddie Van Halen, and Jon Bon Jovi.
Bystedt is firmly committed to supporting charitable organizations; her work has benefitted amFAR, Amber Lounge benefitting the Special Olympics, and the Venice Family Art Walk. She champions accessibility and brings much of her work to the street – open to unrestricted, unlimited view. Collaboration is a key element of Bystedt’s current artistic approach; over the last four years, she has produced several murals in partnership with streets arts including Cryptik, Nick Flatt, Bisco Smith, Drew Merritt Ralph Ziman and Moncho1929 in Los Angeles, as well as Lee Washington and Chris Flore in Houston. In 2017, she produced her own mural Kings and Queens in Harlem, and a collaborative mural with Bradley Theodore in Soho. In 2018, she wheat-pasted her photographic series, Inclusion, on the streets of downtown LA; she is currently developing an exhibition of the photography collection. Bystedt continues to expand her mixed media approach, fusing photography and street art in her work as an individual, whilst forging and supporting artistic communities across the world, discovering and providing platforms for emerging talent, celebrating innovation, eclecticism, and above all – the expression of the self.