Andy Warhol's MoMA Rejection Letter

andy_warhol_rejection_letter.jpgClick to enlarge image


Andy Warhol's "Double Elvis (Ferus Type)" could fetch up to $50 million when it's auctioned at Sotheby's this May but did you know that only seven years earlier in 1956, the pop artist received an ever-so-polite rejection letter from the MoMA after he tried to give them a drawing he made entitled Shoe? The museum, which owns 168 pieces by the late artist (including a number of shoe drawings), wrote the following missive to Warhol:

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.
Sincerely,
Alfred H. Barr, Jr
Director of the Museum Collections
P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.

There's something kind of charming about the letter's politesse.  Nowadays, a rejection comes in the form of unanswered emails and unreturned voicemails and, call us old-fashioned, we'd rather have our refusal in print...which is why we have a copy of this hanging on our bulletin board in the editorial department at PAPERMAG!

Your Comment

Posted at 6:01 on Mar 16, 2012

robert723

Yes, those were the days. A return to civility - PLEASE! Wouldn't that be so nice?

Posted at 6:53 on Mar 28, 2012

julie

I have an orginal copy of this letter written on parchment paper, it is in good condition, it found it in a dresser i purchased at a thrift store.

Posted at 3:34 on Apr 18, 2012

Sweet that he wanted to donate it. Poignant that he got a form rejection letter.

Posted at 11:01 on Apr 18, 2012

mtb

How is it possible to have an original copy? A copy isn't original.

Posted at 10:52 on Jul 03, 2012

Agnes

I have this exact letter -- The Andy Warhol letter rejected in 1956. Could it be the original?