As we all sit back in our chairs, bathing in hindsight, the temptation to laugh and cringe at Alfred Barr's decision to turn down a piece of art from Andy Warhol is almost overwhelming. But then it wasn't until the '60s that Warhol began producing the Pop Art he's now famous for, and in fact he had already participated in a group exhibition that very year in the very museum from which this letter came, so MoMA clearly saw potential in him already. Just not enough to accept his gift.
(Source: Douglas Wilson; Image of Andy Warhol via.)
THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK 19
THE MUSEUM COLLECTIONS
11 WEST 53rd STREET
TELEPHONE: CIRCLE 5-8900
CABLES: MODERNART, NEW YORK
October 18, 1956
Dear Mr. Warhol:
Last week our Committee on the Museum Collections held its first meeting of the fall season and had a chance to study your drawing entitled Shoe which you so generously offered as a gift to the Museum.
I regret that I must report to you that the Committee decided, after careful consideration, that they ought not to accept it for our Collection.
Let me explain that because of our severely limited gallery and storage space we must turn down many gifts offered, since we feel it is not fair to accept as a gift a work which may be shown only infrequently.
Nevertheless, the Committee has asked me to pass on to you their thanks for your generous expression of interest in our Collection.
Alfred H. Barr, Jr.
Director of Museum Collections
Mr. Andy Warhol
242 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York
P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the museum at your convenience.