“Buying art and collecting art are two very different things,” the collector of portraits by pop artist Andy Warhol on display in Tifton’s Museum of Arts and Heritage said Sunday as the large, colorful exhibit opened.
“Focus on a certain something if you want to start collecting,” Wes Cochran of LaGrange told the overflow crowd, “whether that is an era, a decade, the artist or perhaps a medium.”
He chose prints, often referred to as works on paper and 36 of his big Warhol works fill the Museum.
Annie Oakley is there, and John Wayne. Custer and Mick Jagger. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. Geronimo. Teddy Roosevelt and Santa Claus. Howdy Doody, Uncle Sam, Mickey Mouse and Superman too.
“Warhol was a work of art himself,” Cochran said. “He really turned the world inside out and upside down.”
The exhibition continues through Sept. 14 and includes stories about many of the works—details like why is John Wayne’s pistol fluorescent blue or why does Geronimo look close to tears instead of bold?
A list of nine questions offered in the Museum entryway to engage children adds focus for adults too.
Cochran started collecting without making personal selections in 1974 while working on an oilrig in the Persian Gulf, sending money to an uncle in Colorado.
“He knew how stupid a young man with some money could be in a port city,” Cochran said, “and told me to send my money to him.”
Fifteen pieces of art were his when he returned to the States.
He and his wife Missy focused on prints because of their affordability, Cochran said, and the Warhol is but one of four focused collections they share, including 20th century masters and African American works.
Of the exhibit in Tifton, he says, “Warhol blurred all the boundaries of fine art.
“He was the first commercial artist to bridge the gap with fine art, and always provoked the question: ‘Is it art or what is art’?”
Tifton resident Donald Dorminey offered collector Cochran a surprise moment after his exhibition-opening remarks, showing a technologically complex print of a daisy that he had produced working with Warhol in New York in the 1970s.
The flower was part of the Art and Industry exhibition in Los Angeles.
“Yes, that was Warhol,” Cochran said to Dorminey, “always absorbed in the technical aspects too.”
Works by Warhol: The Cochran Collection is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Admission is $3.00 for adults.
The Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage is located at 255 Love Ave., next door to the Tifton-Tift County Public Library.