NGV senior curator Max Delany shares why these two artistic icons share more in common than you think.

We live in the age of Instagram, social media and smart phones. Every hour countless terabytes of images and information churn through the ether of the Internet, gobbled up and discarded as quickly as it is generated; an unending torrent of selfies, likes, tweets and hashtags. The notion that this superficial medium of the zeitgeist might share some profound resonance with one of the 20th-century’s most iconic artists sounds unlikely. But you need only look as far as Andy Warhol’s celebrity Polaroids from the late 1950s up until his death in 1987 to see a familiar connection to the present day’s most prolific form of expression.

The biggest stars of the era – A-listers like Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Yoko Ono – are captured as up close portraits, but with the affected posing and faux-seductive come-hither looks that bear an uncanny resemblance to the ubiquitous selfie of today. “Warhol understood the power of an image – the way they circulate and proliferate. How they create meaning and cultivate desire” senior curator of the National Gallery of...

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