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March 6, 2010

Fleming Museum features Warhol, Egyptian mummy, 'Barn Ball'

Warhol, Egyptian mummy, 'Barn Ball' among showings

If you go


Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, 61 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405. Phone (802) 656-2090. The Andy Warhol exhibit continues through April 26 and the Soviet posters until May 23. An additional temporary exhibit, "Storied Objects: Tracing Women's Lives in Vermont," opened just after our visit and remains up through Sept. 3.

Now that it's become clear that we live too far north for cross-country skiing, we've decided to catch up with cultural attractions in the area.

Despite its proximity, my wife, Marty, and I visit the Fleming Museum on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington far too infrequently. Housed in a Colonial Revival-style brick building designed by the notable architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, the museum combines its permanent holdings with regularly changing special exhibitions. Originally, the entrance led to the Marble Court, a gleaming space with marble floor, Ionic columns and a dominating bipartite staircase. It's still a commanding presence.

BOLD IMAGES

Right now, a newly acquired collection of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Polaroid photos has garnered considerable attention. I'm not that much of a fan of Warhol's work, though his rise from blue-collar Pittsburgh to New York art celebrity may testify to my being in the minority. The pictures on display show how he used individual Polaroids as the basis of more idealized works, including some of his famed silkscreens.

Appearances were everything to Warhol, who relied heavily on makeup and costume to create an image. Calling his photography a "fictionalizing tool" seems accurate. The artist didn't rely on the casual photo; he generally took 100 snapshots to get the exact one he wanted.

Warhol has become an everyday icon, at least as judged by some items accompanying the photos. Burton has created an "Andy Warhol Snowboard Jacket." I don't remember seeing one of those at the Olympics.

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