University Relations and Communications

Andy Warhol Foundation's Legacy Program gifts MSU Billings with original Warhol works

April 16, 2014



Eileen Wright, Special Collections, 657-1656
Carmen Price, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Andy Warhol once said that “The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.”


Six original silkscreen prints by Warhol were presented on Tuesday to the Montana State University Billings Art Department and the Northcutt Steele Gallery, which will forever belong to MSUB thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation’s Legacy Program.


“This is absolutely thrilling for us,” MSU Billings Northcutt Steele Gallery Director Leanne Gilbertson said, as the prints were unveiled in the Special Collections room in the library by MSUB archivist, Eileen Wright.


Of the six silkscreens, four are from Warhol’s 1986 “Cowboys and Indians” series, each measuring 36 inches-squared, printed on Lenox museum board. Other prints gifted include “Flowers,” 1970 and a 1985 print of a Queen Elizabeth portrait from the series “Reigning Queens.”


The acquisition of this unique collection is the second gift MSU Billings has received from the Warhol Foundation and is the result of collaborative efforts made by longtime MSU Billings Professor of art education Dr. Connie Landis, Gilbertson and Wright.


The first gift came in 2008 when Landis received news that MSUB would be a recipient of the Legacy Program grant she had applied for with the New York-based Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts— an unprecedented opportunity available to educational institutions, museums, galleries and art collections across the United States. The program gifted MSUB with 159 Polaroid and black-and-white photographs from the foundation’s collection of 28,543 original Warhol photographs. MSUB is the sole educational institution in Montana to be accepted into the program.


“We must have had 20 letters back-and-forth to ensure we met the foundation’s criteria,” Landis chuckled. “We’re fortunate as heck to have this wonderful collection here.”


The foundation sent Gilbertson a letter last summer informing her that the board had voted to make a second gift to each institution that had be en accepted into the Legacy Program in 2008.


The selected prints are trial proofs of final prints that were incorporated into Warhol’s portfolio, each with vibrant, layered colors.


“I love the fact that these are trial proofs,” Gilbertson added. “You are able to see the process and the decisions he made that eventually went into his final works. These are a tremendous teaching tool for us.”


Warhol tried many different color combinations of each print to decide the color combination he wanted to use for the final edition, Gilbertson said.


During the screen-printing process, an artist applies layers of color, one color at a time. The rich, layered colors of the Warhol prints give the works a three-dimensional look.


Melissa Contreraz, a custom framer with Rimrock Art and Frame, joined the small group on Tuesday to discuss framing and archival options. She said it will be an opportunity of a lifetime to frame the prints.


“It’s not everyday you get a call to frame original Andy Warhol works,” Contreraz said. “Maybe never.”


Although there isn’t a specific date set, Gilbertson said they are planning for an exhibition next spring.