Andy Warhol’s Rejection Letter

I know that a lot of creatives will agree with me that a lot of times the best kind of advertising is just getting your work out there.  This can be very challenging at times because it involves letting go of your work for less than it’s worth, sometimes even for free.  Let’s call it ‘investing in the future’.  It’s comforting, then, to find out that even those who ‘made it’ (and I use that term in a very loose way, as ‘making it’ could mean something entirely different to each of us), started with some good old fashioned handouts.  And even then… they weren’t always accepted.  Here’s a letter to Andy Warhol from the Museum of Modern Art in New York rejecting his donation of a drawing to the museum’s collection.  It’s a bit hard to read, so the text is also typed out below:

Andy Warhol Rejection Letter

(Source: Douglas Wilson)

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.

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