Auburn University art museum acquires Warhol photograph of musician John Oates wearing Auburn T-shirt

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University is the winner of an online auction of an Andy Warhol photograph from Christie’s Auction House, an eight-by-10 black-and-white image featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2014 nominee John Oates in 1981 wearing a “War Damn Eagle” T-shirt.

The museum staff, with donations from Auburn alumni and community partners, sought to acquire the photograph, not only to add to its existing Warhol collection of 150 photographs, but also to advance the mission of research, instruction and outreach to the Auburn Family.

The duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates recorded six number one hits and put 34 songs in the Billboard Top 100. Oates visited Auburn in May 1981 with the group on a tour of southern colleges.

“When we came to town, we were welcomed into town by a barbecue place, which was kind of fun, and I recall going to the student store,” said Oates. “I had never heard the term ‘War Damn Eagle,’ but I thought it was really cool.”

Oates said he knew Warhol from living in New York City, along with graffiti artist Keith Haring.

“Andy would come to our shows,” Oates said. “I used to go over to The Factory, where Andy did his work, which was kind of an older loft building. It was a very small community, believe it or not. It seems legendary now with the perspective of time. He was always taking pictures.”

Because Warhol was rarely without his camera, Oates said he wasn’t sure exactly when the photograph was captured, but that it was flattering to be part of the museum’s collection.

“I have, by accident, become a certain part of art history. Andy was so ahead of his time and prophetic in terms of where the world has gone in making stars. If interest because someone knows me or my music helps generate interest in the university, Andy’s work, or other aspects of the fine arts, then everyone benefits.”

Auburn alumnus L. Nick Davis ’84, attended the Hall and Oates concert at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum and was part of the museum’s development effort to secure funds for the acquisition of the photograph. Davis said he was glad to bring the photograph home to the Plains not only for nostalgic reasons, but also to possibly raise awareness of this campus and community asset.

“The art museum expands our exposure to artists, media and important art that we wouldn’t have easy access to if the art museum did not exist. We have it in our own backyard,” Davis said.

Davis said he felt it was important to support the work of the art museum to build prestige, the collections, and allow staff to bring dynamic exhibitions and programming to Auburn. The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is the only accredited university art museum in the state of Alabama.

The museum will use excerpts of a recent phone interview with Oates to produce additional outreach content that viewers can access with mobile devices. In the audio clips, Oates shared memories of Auburn and the art movements he was exposed to in New York City’s Greenwich Village and Soho. The museum also plans to exhibit six artist silkscreens donated this year by The Warhol Foundation in a future permanent collection exhibition.

Charitable, tax-deductible gifts in support of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art or other programs at Auburn are made through the Auburn University Foundation, which receives such gifts on the university’s behalf.

Donors, alumni and friends can make a philanthropic gift in support of the museum by contacting Melaine Bennett, development officer, at (334) 844-7945, or by visiting www.jcsm.auburn.edu/support. To learn more about the various means of donating to Auburn University, visit https://develop.auburn.edu/how/.

For more information about the museum’s upcoming exhibitions and programs, visit www.jcsm.auburn.edu or call (334) 844-1484.

Note: An image showing the Warhol photograph is not included with this news release due to licensing restrictions.

(Written by Charlotte Hendrix.)

Contacts: Charlotte Hendrix, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, (334) 844-7075 (charlotte.hendrix@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)