Andy Warhol’s MoMA rejection letter

Papermag recently dug up an old letter from 1956 sent to Andy Warhol from Alfred H. Barr, Jr, the then Director of the Museum of Modern Art. The Letter politely rejects Warhol’s offer to gift his drawing Shoe to the museum that year. You can read the whole letter below and as Papermag points out, Warhol’s work now fetches some of the highest prices at auction. In May he has a piece coming up for auction at Sothebys that is estimated to go for $50 million. I guess it goes to show you struggling artists, don’t let rejection get you down.


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.


Alfred H. Barr, Jr
Director of the Museum Collections

P.S. The drawing may be picked up from the Museum at your convenience.

Read more from Papermag here.

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